BBG Watch Commentary
Is it only us, or was Lynne Weil engaging in a bit of passive aggressive behavior at the recent Broadcasting Board of Governors (BBG) meeting in Miami?
The BBG’s Director of Communications and External Affairs Lynne Weil gave a very professional report on on media and Congressional outreach activities.
Fine and Good. But then something strange happened.
Frankly, we were surprised because Lynne Weil is a highly respected and experienced public relations specialist who before joining the BBG was the Press Director and Spokeswoman for the U.S. Agency for International Development, a Senior Advisor to the Under Secretary of State for Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs, the Press Secretary for the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, and the Communications Director for the House Foreign Affairs Committee.
What struck us as very strange was the way Lynne Weil described BBG Governor Victor Ashe’s efforts to restore the Edward R. Murrow name to the BBG shortwave radio transmitting facility in Greenville, NC. Ashe with the help of North Carolina Congressman Walter Jones saved the station from being closed down by the Broadcasting Board of Governors and International Broadcasting Bureau executive staff. These staffers deeply resent Ashe’s active engagement and second guessing of their decisions. Most recently, he convinced other BBG members to discard the staff’s earlier recommendation to end Voice of America shortwave radio broadcasts to Tibet and to close down the VOA Cantonese Service.
It’s not that Lynne Weil was silent about Ashe’s efforts to save the Greenville station and to restore its name. On the contrary, her presentation was so full of accolades that after a while it began to sound farcical, at least to us, and perhaps also to Ashe and other BBG members in the room.
Lynne Weil also volunteered information that the placing of Edward R. Murrow signs near and on the station and the planned rededication ceremony that is to take place on May 2, will cost $10,000. A really strange move by a public relations professional.
Victor Ashe has been know to question extensive foreign travels and other extravagant expenditures like the $50,000,000 audience research contract with Gallup approved by BBG and IBB executives who protect their jobs and perks while proposing to eliminate broadcasts and fire hundreds of journalists and other broadcasting professionals. Ashe refuses to have his public comments cleared by the IBB staff and invites input from BBG rank-and-file employee. To the horror of the executive staff, he made his personal email address public and asked for public comments on important U.S. international broadcasting issues.
Those viewing or listening to the proceedings of the Miami meeting could have easily concluded from Lynne Weil’s presentation that Ashe and Congressman Jones are only interested in the placing of new signs around the station and the rededication ceremony. In reality, this is an effort by distinguished public servants (Ashe is a former mayor of Knoxville, TN and former U.S. Ambassador to Poland) to ensure that Broadcasting Board of Governors and International Broadcasting Bureau government bureaucrats will have a more difficult time in the future trying to close down this only remaining shortwave radio transmitting facility on U.S. territory, which is operated by American workers and fully controlled by the U.S. government.
Ashe announced at the meeting that in addition to Congressman Jones, Casey Murrow, son of Edward R. Murrow, will participate in the rededication ceremony, which will also honor World Press Freedom Day. Edward R. Murrow, after whom the Greenville station was named, was the renowned broadcaster and director of the United States Information Agency, USIA (1961-1964). The Greenville station was dedicated by President John F. Kennedy in 1963.
It’s a well known fact that BBG/IBB executive staff wants to end shortwave radio broadcasts, especially by the Voice of America, even to countries without free media. Their now rejected recommendation to eliminate VOA radio to Tibet and China is a proof of their bureaucratic vision. They ignore the fact that the Chinese authorities censor and block Voice of America, Radio Free Asia, and other Western news websites but they can never fully jam shortwave radio broadcasts.
Did Lynne Weil get carried away by her enthusiasm of being new in this job or was there another agenda? I guess we will never know for sure.
You can check it out yourself by viewing the on-demand video from meeting or listening to a MP3 file HERE. Lynne Weil’s presentation is at the very end of the file.