Broadcasting Board of Governors – Information War Lost – Thanksgiving Holiday Gifting

by The Federalist

How do you define “insanity?”

Answer: The Broadcasting Board of Governors/International Broadcasting Bureau (BBG/IBB)!

Perhaps more to the point, it’s the BBG/IBB mindset.  And here, the Einstein definition of insanity is most appropriate: “Doing the same thing over and over, expecting a different result.”

So what has the BBG/IBB done this time?

You guessed it – another press release, this one dated November 19, 2012, titled, “BBG Content On Google Currents Mobile Platform in 40 Languages.”

The BBG/IBB likes cranking out these press releases.  Maybe they think it shows they’re doing something (other than losing their audience).

Perhaps in addition to keeping up the appearance of busy work, maybe the BBG/IBB is just throwing stuff out there to see what sticks.

In closed or controlled media environments, the answer is: not much.

Maybe nothing at all (Bruce Sherman’s “empty chairs” research presentation about media in Zimbabwe).

The first thing that catches our attention with this latest press release is the picture used to highlight the Google Currents application on a Samsung Android phone.

What language service did the agency decide to highlight?

The Voice of America (VOA) Indonesian Service.

Wait a minute!

This is the service that got clobbered in the latest Gallup audience survey data:

“The largest change was in Indonesia, where the audience numbers dropped by 17.4 million from 38 million to 21 million people, in part due to a potential overestimate in 2011.”

That’s a direct quote from the agency’s press release dated November 14, 2012 titled, “BBG Measures Audience Growth in Key Markets.”

Remember what we said about “potential overestimate?”


The agency probably never had the audience to begin with.  No “potential overestimate” about it.

VOA Indonesian Service: The agency’s first place leader in lost audiences!

What an achievement!

(Nothing like drawing attention to failure – sort of like using the image of the Titanic to promote a cruise line.)

That lost audience (radio, TV, Internet, mobile devices) didn’t all migrate over to Google Currents for VOA content.

Come on.  Get serious.

Here’s the deal:

The Indonesian government is a believer in controlling foreign news content.  That means, regardless of the media platform, Indonesian media and other providers are prohibited from disseminating foreign news content.  Now that the self-promoters on the Third Floor of the Cohen Building have announced that they have “program material” from VOA Indonesian available in-country on Google Currents, what do you think the Indonesian government will do?

They will block it, if it contains content the Indonesian government thinks is inconsistent with their media regulations.

We call this “Service Unavailable.”

This isn’t rocket science.

More than likely the only content that will be permissible are the “lifestyle” pieces that the VOA Indonesian Service cranks out.

But that is not the primary mission of VOA, the VOA Indonesian Service or of US Government international broadcasting.

The primary mission of what the agency is supposed to be doing is codified in the VOA Charter.  The BBG/IBB has ignored the Charter and the results are predictable: the agency’s audiences are bottoming out, heading straight for the category of being a statistical zero in terms of audience versus world population.

Having a total audience of 175-million juxtaposed to a world population of 7-BILLION doesn’t cut it.  Nor does it justify almost a BILLION dollars in US taxpayer money annually for the agency’s budget.

And reversing this trend isn’t going to happen with a weak, manipulated and exploited BBG and a cabal of insubordinate and rebellious IBB bonus-mongers.

We’re not at all surprised with the misfortunes of US Government international broadcasting.


Because it isn’t what it is supposed to be, thanks to the BBG/IBB.

There is an important irony in all this:

What the Gallup polling numbers show is that global publics are engaged in a formative demonstration of their own “freedom and democracy” (as opposed to the hypocrisy coming from the BBG/IBB).  In effect, they are “voting” to repudiate the BBG/IBB flim flam not-so-strategic-plan and hitting their own “OFF” switches.  They are tuning out BBG/IBB and tuning in to content from other providers of international news and information, across all media platforms, and/or their own domestic media.

This is really no surprise.  These audiences are in “Reset” mode.


Global publics have an expectation from the United States.

They expect the United States to speak with authority and resolve.

The BBG/IBB program trajectory does neither.

And there is another important missing ingredient as the BBG/IBB turns away from the VOA Charter.

It has abandoned moral authority.

As recent events demonstrate what you have on the Third Floor of the Cohen Building is amorality – the absence of any moral standards.  If anything, these characters have embraced venality, self-aggrandizement and self-interest.

Professional conduct?  There is none.  In its place you have arrogance, defiance and gross insubordination.  In its place you have an agency run by a group of individuals who employ harassment, intimidation and threats – not only against employees but members of the BBG who have the audacity to stand up to IBB scheming.

Here are some of the areas that show the progression of the corrosion taking place:


Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty: (the Steve Korn fiasco involving the firing of over 40 veteran journalists of its Russian Service).


Persian News Network (the still-to-be fully explained disappearance of its “Parazit” program and lying about the status of the show to the BBG and Members of Congress).


Hostile employee work environment (consistently at/or near the bottom in the annual Federal employee workplace survey).


Precipitous loss of global audiences: (down to 175-million and seemingly going lower).


Deliberate reduction in the US Government international broadcasting footprint and accessibility.


Gross insubordination: (the Steve Korn refusal to answer questions about his decisions regarding the RFE/RL Russian Service and other, separate IBB-driven incidents).


Absent its moral and ethical compass (the VOA Charter) this agency has gone off a cliff.

With all of this comes the perception that the United States has lost its way, is weak and decayed.

These are not good notions to have afoot in a very violent and troubled world as we see today.

Making matters worse: this has all been deliberately set upon by an entrenched group of careerists who believe they are not accountable.

As we have stated before: fix it or close it.  However, the latter is becoming not only more likely but perhaps the only option when one considers the totality of the destruction these individuals have brought to this agency.

With each passing day, they are making the outcome inevitable.

The Federalist

November 2012


BBG Press Release

BBG Content on Google Currents Mobile Platform in 40 Languages

November 19, 2012

Washington, D.C. – The Broadcasting Board of Governors (BBG) is using Google’s new Currents platform to provide enhanced mobile access to text, audio and video content in more than 40 languages.

The BBG’s use of Currents will provide users abroad with a richer mobile experience when accessing content from Voice of America, Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, Radio Free Asia, Middle East Broadcasting Networks or the Office of Cuba Broadcasting

Google Currents is a magazine-like experience that allows users to swipe through content on mobile phones and tablets, as if they were flipping through the pages of a magazine.  The Currents application comes pre-installed on many Google Android devices.

The BBG has long seen mobile as an important platform in reaching new audiences, particularly in developing countries. Worldwide, mobile devices outsell desktop computers, and 75% of the world’s population has access to mobile phones.

“We are gratified to see early enthusiasm for our multimedia content on this new mobile platform,” said Susan McCue, co-chair of the BBG’s Communications and Outreach Committee. “The fact that the Currents application comes as a standard feature on these devices presents a huge opportunity for us to distribute BBG content to targeted overseas audiences.”

Numerous U.S. international broadcasting news shows and features have already proven popular in Apple’s iTunes store.

“Google Currents is one of our early strategic efforts and we are working toward distributing content through several other leading Web and mobile based portals,” said Randy Abramson, Director of Products and Operations for ODDI.

The Google Currents application is available for both Apple iOS and Google Android supported devices.   Users can find the BBG editions by downloading the application in the Apple App Store or Google Play Store and search for VOA, RFA, RFE/RL, Marti and MBN respectively.

The Broadcasting Board of Governors is an independent federal agency, supervising all U.S. government-supported, civilian international broadcasting, whose mission is to inform, engage and connect people around the world in support of freedom and democracy. BBG broadcasting organizations include the Voice of America, Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, the Middle East Broadcasting Networks (Alhurra TV and Radio Sawa), Radio Free Asia, and the Office of Cuba Broadcasting (Radio and TV Marti).


BBG | 330 Independence Avenue, SW, Washington DC 20237 | 202.203.4400