BBG Watch Commentary

The Broadcasting Board of Governors (BBG) announced a sudden change of the time of its open meeting on October 11. Instead of holding it in the afternoon, as it was previously announced to the public, the BBG decided the day before the meeting that it will be held in the morning instead.

The sudden change shows a complete disregard for the public on the part of the agency’s officials.

The sudden change may also prevent some BBG members from attending. They may have been crucial in persuading other BBG members to respond to the political, public diplomacy, and human crisis created by the actions of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty officials who last month had fired some of the most respected in Russia Radio Liberty journalists and cancelled their political and human rights programs.

The sudden change of the time of the meeting has also prevented some NGOs from sending their representatives, BBG Watch has learned.

It is not clear whether the change was done for the convenience of just one BBG member or at the request of the executive staff. In any case, since the time of the meeting was previously announced to the public, changing it should not have been even considered and all BBG members should have been required to attend.

Since the meeting is now being held early in the morning, BBG members will have very little or no time to evaluate and act upon numerous protests received from human rights and political leaders in Russia, including former President Gorbachev and former Prime Minister Mikhail Kasyanov, in response to the firing of Radio Liberty’s Moscow staff.

There will be speculation that the change was designed to limit debate and evaluation of the issues in Moscow, as there is speculation that the earlier cancellation of the town hall meeting with BBG employees was designed to prevent the team from the Office of the Inspector General, doing an inspection of the BBG, from hearing employees comments.