BBG Watch Commentary

BBG Parazit photo

Broadcasting Board of Governors (BBG) members were reportedly appalled to learn last week for the first time that the highly popular Voice of America (VOA) satirical television program “Parazit,” which was broadcast to Iran, has been off the air for the last nine months. Sources told BBG Watch that the BBG senior staff — which on the administrative and programming side includes the International Broadcasting Bureau (IBB) Director Richard Lobo, his deputy Jeff Trimble, VOA Director David Ensor, his deputy Steve Redisch, and Director of the Office of Strategy and Development Bruce Sherman — reportedly failed to inform BBG members that the show is no longer broadcast and has been replaced by other programming. Most, if not all, BBG members were convinced that the program continues and were angry about being kept in the dark about personnel problems at the VOA Persian Service that have led to the show’s cancelation, sources told BBG Watch.

BBG members along with members of Congress, congressional staffers and American public may have been mislead by several press releases and announcements put out this year by the BBG executive staff which suggested that the VOA satirical TV show to Iran is still on the air. A press release issued last month referred to “Parazit” as still being broadcast. The BBG employee union, AFGE Local 1812, has accused BBG, IBB and VOA executives of providing BBG members and members of Congress with misleading information about many other broadcasts.

VOA Executive Editor Steve Redisch was put in charge of reforming the Persian Service, but an independent blog “VOA PNN Watchdog” blames him and other executives for contributing to continuing mismanagement of VOA programs to Iran.

“In spite of the fact that Parazit has been off-air for more than six months (June 2012) VOA management continues to flaunt the show and speak about it as if it still exists. There is no mention that the program is indefinitely off the air and [it] is only mentioned in passing that [it] is currently on ‘season break.’ This is clearly a lie.” — VOA PNN Watchdog 

BBG Watch sources describe Steve Redisch as a controversial figure at the Voice of America who has alienated many rank-and-file journalists, but the IBB top management defends him as being an outstanding executive who has improved employee morale. Redisch is involved in a controversy over his request to the United Nations to revoke UN press accreditation of independent American journalist Matthew Russell Lee because of a dispute with a VOA correspondent.

An op-ed by an American columnist Felice Friedson in The Jerusalem Post suggested that Iranians are profoundly disappointed with Voice of America programs. Four political dissidents living in Iran who spoke by phone with American journalists in New York all said that “VOA might as well be staffed by agents of the Iranian government,” Felice Friedson reported.

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