The Broadcasting Board of Governors (BBG) Interim Presiding Governor Michael Lynton has sent a late response to Mrs. Annette Lantos’ letter in defense of Voice of America broadcasts. BBG Watch sources told us that Lynton’s letter was drafted by the BBG’s International Broadcasting Bureau (IBB) executive staff in collaboration with the BBG’s Communications and Outreach Committee, as well as Governor Lynton.
The response letter was sent two months from the date of Mrs. Lantos’ letter to the BBG.
Annette Lantos is the Chairman of the Lantos Foundation for Human Rights and Justice.
The response process was overseen by Lynne Weil, the BBG’s Director of Communications and External Affairs, who used to work on Capitol Hill for Mrs. Lantos’ late husband Congressman Tom Lantos, but some of the drafters of the response letter were the very officials who had proposed to eliminate the programs which Mrs. Lantos was defending. This may explain why it took BBG/IBB executives nearly two months to respond to the highly respected Holocaust survivor, champion of human rights and supporter of U.S. international broadcasting.
Governor Lynton’s letter still refers to the BBG’s fiscal year 2013 budget submission which includes the proposed cuts opposed by Mrs. Lantos, the Committee for U.S. International Broadcasting (CUSIB), which was mentioned in Mrs. Lantos’ letter, and Appropriations Committees in the U.S. House of Representatives and the U.S. Senate.
While Mrs. Lantos was pointing out the damage that would be caused specifically by ending Voice of America broadcasts and the importance of VOA’s name to oppressed individuals and groups in China, Tibet and Russia, the BBG/IBB executive staff focused its response on leveraging resources of VOA, Radio Free Asia (RFA), and Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty (RFE/RL).
The letter does not mention that at a meeting in Miami in April BBG members themselves rejected the staff’s recommendations to cut programs to Tibet and China but points out vaguely that the Board has “revisited” its strategy for China and Tibet as reflected in the fiscal year 2013 budget submission. The letter does not clarify what “revisited” means, but invites Mrs. Lantos to contact Lynne Weil to arrange a meeting with the BBG to discuss her concerns. It’s not clear whether the meeting would be with Governor Lynton or the entire Board. The BBG response focuses heavily on the importance of the Internet and new media, which Mrs. Lantos did not question in her letter.
READ MRS. LANTOS’ LETTER TO BBG