BBG Watch is publishing a link to the controversial Broadcasting Board of Governors’ (BBG) $50,000,000 audience research contract with Gallup. We were told that this copy was obtained under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request. Many segments of the contract were blacked out by BBG officials.
Critics point out that conducting BBG-relevant audience research through telephone and face-to-face interviews in countries like China ruled by authoritarian regimes produces unreliable and often highly misleading results which are then used my BBG strategists to justify important programming decisions.
As most BBG members were voting to approve this $50 million five year contract, they also accepted a recommendation from BBG strategic planners to end Voice of America (VOA) radio broadcasts to Tibet and to close down the VOA Cantonese Service which broadcasts to China. Critics charge that these recommendations were based on faulty audience research provided to the BBG by another contractor. Critics argue that Gallup is not expected to offer the BBG better quality research. They point out that Gallup has already informed the BBG that most people in China consider their domestic media to be largely free. China experts view this finding as unreliable.
As BBG strategists were pushing for the approval of the $50,000,000 contract, they were proposing terminating programs and firing more than 200 journalists and staffers who produce broadcasts.