Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said today that the Broadcasting Board of Governors, the federal agency in charge of U.S. international broadcasting, is practically defunct in terms of its capacity to tell a message around the world.
HILLARY CLINTON: “Our Broadcasting Board of Governors is practically defunct in terms of its capacity to tell a message around the world. So we’re abdicating the ideological arena and we need to get back into it. We have the best values. We have the best narrative. Most people in the world just want to have a good decent life that is supported by a good decent job and raise their families and we’re letting the Jihadist narrative fill a void. We have to get in there and compete and we can do it successfully.”
SEE VIDEO: Clinton: “‘We Have the Best Values. We Have the Best Narrative’:’We’re letting the Jihadist narrative fill a void’,” The Washington Free Beacon, Jan. 23, 2013.
Ted Lipien, a former Voice of America acting associate director and former regional marketing director for the BBG, gave this comment to BBG Watch (Lipien, his nonprofit foundation and a group of volunteers helped to launch BBG Watch):
TED LIPIEN: Secretary Clinton is an ex officio member of the Broadcasting Board of Governors. She, like other BBG members, is beginning to realize that the BBG’s International Broadcasting Bureau (IBB) executive staff, which runs the agency, has brought it to the brink of disaster and is still trying hard to marginalize the role of the Board, as seen in the latest Office of the Inspector General (OIG) report. The report has numerous and obvious shortcomings and includes unprecedented and completely unwarranted attacks on BBG members and their role. IBB executives managed to convince poorly-informed OIG inspectors that the IBB staff, not the Board, should be making decisions about U.S. international broadcasting.
Recent actions by BBG members, such as their response to the crisis at Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty (RFE/RL), suggest,however, that they may be finally ready to assert their authority over the IBB executive staff. Ambassador Victor Ashe’s efforts to bring accountability to the BBG and to prevent waste and mismanagement are now receiving support from other Board members despite the OIG’s incredible recommendation to put a stop to these efforts and to limit transparency. Secretary Clinton’s comments suggest that attempts to prevent reforms and to maintain status quo will not succeed. While Secretary Clinton will soon be leaving her post, I’m reassured that the next BBG chairman Jeff Shell, if he is confirmed by the Senate, is going to try to fix this very important institution.
As correct as she was in her overall assessment of U.S. international broadcasting efforts, Secretary Clinton should have, however, given credit to rank and file BBG journalists who are doing an outstanding job, unless they are prevented from executing the agency’s mission, which has recently happened at RFE/RL.
Those journalists who still can produce excellent programs with America’s pro-human rights and democracy message and deliver them around the world. But to be successful in the highly competitive international media environment, the BBG needs more programming and program delivery resources, just as much as it needs reforms.
I understand how difficult it is to fund these broadcasting initiatives, but Secretary Clinton has repeatedly pointed out quite correctly that this is the most effective and economical investment enhancing US national security in these times of tight budgets. Still, the first order of business for BBG members is to reform the International Broadcasting Bureau and to increase their oversight over the management of the agency,” Ted Lipien said.