BBG Watch Commentary


How to explain the bizarre Broadcasting Board of Governors (BBG) resolution, adopted at a recent board meeting, on what BBG members can say in public?

“The board unanimously approved a resolution establishing ground rules pursuant to which members of the BBG board agree to keep information regarding deliberations on budgetary and legislative matters confidential, with the level of confidentiality of legislative proposals to be determined by the current head of the board. The BBG Governance Committee will consider other categories of information that may become subject to the nondisclosure ground rules.”

Also see:

Radio World – BBG: Spend More Wisely, Talk More Discreetly

BBG Watch – Broadcasting Board of Governors passes resolution to limit public access to information

There are only two plausible explanations, and both of them apply in this case.

1. Some BBG members but particularly the BBG’s executive staff working for the International Broadcasting Bureau Director Richard Lobo are trying to find an excuse for a series of spectacular legislative and public relations failures for which only they are to blame. But what could be better than to blame their failures on alleged leaks of strategy information.

We have looked at this carefully. Members of Congress of both parties, American NGOs, foreign human rights activists, US media outlets and bloggers have been extremely critical of information, claims and programming recommendations that BBG staffers themselves proudly released for public consumption. We could not find any Congressional criticism of BBG executives and some BBG members for being “opaque” and “tone-deaf to Congressional directives” that has not resulted from their own official, open interactions with Congress and the media.

2. The second equally valid explanation is that some BBG members, but particularly their executive staff, want to hide information and problems of their own creation from the American public and the U.S. Congress. Good luck with that, but it is worrisome that they should try to be even less transparent and less accountable than they are already. With that kind of attitude they want to repeal the Simth-Mundt Act. Good luck with that as well.

The resolution is nothing but bizarre. This is not how serious organizations deal with such an issue, if there is even an issue. Such issues are resolved quietly among board members. Since this is a bipartisan board, they should practice the art of compromise and not allow the staff to create an artificial problem as a justification for failure. What the Board needs is a completely new staff that can do the job right.

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