BBG – USAGM Watch Commentary
The independent and nonpartisan NGO Committee for U.S. International Broadcasting (CUSIB.org) has appealed to Senator Marco Rubio to investigate any new plans of the management of the U.S. Agency for Global Media (USAGM) for U.S. taxpayer-funded media outreach to China through the Voice of America (VOA). A CUSIB press release, which includes a copy of the letter, says that “CUSIB is concerned in light of a stream of management scandals in recent years at USAGM and VOA that USAGM and VOA leadership may try to undermine VOA broadcasts in Cantonese and Tibetan.”
What the CUSIB press release does not specifically mention is that strategic planning at the U.S. Agency for Global Media was done until recently by Dr. Haroon Ullah, an agency official hired in 2017 by USAGM CEO John Lansing who has been in his position since 2015. Several days ago Ullah pled guilty to federal fraud charges related to his work travels at USAGM and is expected to receive a prison sentence. Some of the contractors hired by Dr. Ullah may still be working at USAGM and may occupy position close to John Lansing.
Any recent agency plans related to VOA media outreach to China would have been developed by Mr. Lansing together with his former top strategic advisor, whom Lansing still continues to follow on Twitter.
It seems that CUSIB believes that in light of this and other numerous scandals at the agency in recent years, including the VOA Mandarin 5 incident, U.S. Congress should pay particular attention to any decisions made by Mr. Lansing, his former top aide who is now an admitted felon, and the rest of the USAGM senior management team, especially as they relate to VOA broadcasting in Mandarin, Cantonese, and Tibetan.
END OF BBG – USAGM Watch Commentary
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
The independent and nonpartisan NGO Committee for U.S. International Broadcasting (CUSIB.org) has appealed to Senator Marco Rubio to investigate any new plans of the management of the U.S. Agency for Global Media (USAGM) for U.S. taxpayer-funded media outreach to China through the Voice of America (VOA). CUSIB is concerned in light of a stream of management scandals in recent years at USAGM and VOA that USAGM and VOA leadership may try to undermine VOA broadcasts in Cantonese and Tibetan.
In 2012, a group of Tibetan-Americans, including several Tibetan monks, protested against previous plans by the Broadcasting Board of Governors (BBG) to reduce VOA radio broadcasting to Tibet. CUSIB opposed those plans in 2012 and they were subsequently blocked in Congress. CUSIB also opposed previous BBG plans to eliminate VOA Cantonese broadcasts. BBG was the former name of the U.S. Agency for Global Media. According to media reports, some of the members of the BBG Board were engaged in corporate business in China.
Committee for U.S. International Broadcasting
July 3, 2019
United States Senator Marco Rubio
284 Russell Senate Office Building
Washington, DC 20510
Sent via email
Dear Senator Rubio:
The Committee for US International Broadcasting (CUSIB) has been contacted by journalists who wish to remain anonymous about two job postings for VOA Mandarin Network Directors, with pay grades of GS15:
We respectfully request for there to be Congressional hearings to review this new Voice of America Mandarin network, and for your intervention to freeze any USAGM hiring for Voice of America Mandarin Network until this matter is resolved.
As you know, the USAGM (formerly known as the BBG) has five Congressionally-authorized Networks: Voice of America, Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, Office of Cuba Broadcasting, Radio Free Asia, and Middle East Broadcasting.
These aforementioned job postings suggest that a sixth Network has been created, with no mention to the public that it has been authorized by Congress. In fact, the job deadline for applying for these two positions is July 5, 2019.
It is the concern of the Committee for US International Broadcasting that this sixth Network, the Voice of America Mandarin Network, will infringe upon the three already-existing Services provided in the China Branch: Voice of America Cantonese, Mandarin and Tibetan Service that provide news and opinions from the United States as mandated by the US Congress in the Voice of America Charter.
The Congressionally-created jurisdiction specific to Mandarin Chinese listeners for broadcast purposes that the USAGM is now carving out for a sixth Network does not exist legally. If it were to become de-facto legalized, it would most certainly eviscerate the existing Cantonese and Tibetan Service, leaving the non-Mandarin speaking audiences kicked to the curb, seen as inconsequential, redundant, unnecessary and eventually defunded.
CUSIB has fought for years against the elimination of VOA Cantonese and Tibetan Service, and we see this lean, new Network idea as a way to eliminate those broadcasting services
This would play directly into the hands of China’s government, leaving the Chinese-speaking world the option of speaking Mandarin, or not being informed.
Since VOA Mandarin fired several employees after the scandal of the widely-publicized Guo Wengui interview, we wonder if there are unused VOA funds being set aside for a runaway budget to create this new Network.
Thank you for your attention to this urgent matter, and I look forward to your reply.
Committee for US International Broadcasting — www.cusib.org