BBG WATCH EXCLUSIVE
BBG Watch has received from a source within the Broadcasting Board of Governors (BBG) a new secretly written document designed to serve as a series of briefing memos for BBG’s new Chief Executive Officer (CEO). He is expected to be named soon by the BBG Board chaired by Jeff Shell.
Since the new Chief Executive Officer will never receive this kind of honest briefing from International Broadcasting Bureau (IBB) officials, several well-placed individuals working for BBG produced their own analysis of how the federal bureaucracy in charge of U.S. international media outreach operates. They want it to be shared with BBG members, the new CEO, the White House, the OMB, other federal agencies, members of Congress and American taxpayers.
BBG Watch will present this analysis over the next several days in a series of “Briefing Memos for New BBG CEO.” These briefing memos are a collaborative effort.
Briefing Memo 2 for New BBG CEO – Well-Funded IBB Silencing Voice To The Voiceless
BBC Director Tony Hall recently unveiled a restructuring program that will result in the loss of more than 1,000 jobs. The measures will deliver £50 million ($78 million) in savings from merging divisions, cutting down management layers, reducing the number of managers and improving processes. Hall wrote ”…in times of very tough choices we need to focus on what really matters — delivering outstanding programs and content for all our audiences.”
BBC proposed to cut senior management roles across the board; Professional and support areas will be “simplified and procedures standardised”, a move that will hit employees in marketing and communication, finance, HR, IT support and the legal department; Technology teams across digital, engineering and worldwide will be merged.
But, unlike BBG, BBC did not mention any cuts to their foreign language products.
Now, let’s look at the BBG/IBB extravaganza: $61 million for the IBB administration alone, about one third of the entire VOA operation — $262 million for all combined IBB-managed functions, about $60 million more than the entire VOA budget and 34% of the entire BBG budget.
Most recently, VOA had to cut the Greek Service to save $400,000. While Greece is a NATO country, as is Turkey, and has free press albeit showing very strong anti-EU and anti-U.S. biases, the financial and political crisis and Russian propaganda targeting Greece were growing when IBB made its decision to cut the service.
The latest round of IBB-proposed cuts is even more stunning. For FY16, IBB proposed through BBG to eliminate VOA Lao Service, to stop giving voice to the voiceless in one of the only five remaining communist regimes in the world, to save $700,000.
IBB also proposed to cut $1.3 million in VOA radio broadcasts in Afghanistan. ISIS certainly understands the value of the war-torn Afghanistan. It is expanding its operation there as the U.S. withdraws troops from the country. There are other critical radio services listed on the BBG’s FY16 budget submission for reduction or elimination.
The total broadcast services cuts listed on BBG’s FY16 budget request is altogether less than $10 million. That’s why we ask: what happened to the earlier proposed $10 million IBB cut?
Why don’t we streamline IBB? Most of the IBB functions are unnecessary, or not effectively performed as we will explain in our subsequent Briefing Memos for New BBG CEO. You may be shocked how much U.S. taxpayers’ money is wasted on dozens of highly-paid executives, their foreign travels and on mission-irrelevant programs while journalists cannot afford to cover major news developments.