Guest Commentary

BBG Watch occasionally publishes guest commentaries. This one is from Joe Bruns, media executive and former Voice of America acting director. Views expressed are only those of the authors and not of BBG Watch, its volunteers, or sponsors. It was submitted by Mr. Bruns as his comment to BBG Watch post Report language on H.R. 4490 strengthens journalistic integrity, includes VOA Charter, limits Voice of America to non-surrogate role, BBG Watch, July 24, 2014.

We invite those with opposing views and others who want to comment on this or other issues followed by BBG Watch to submit their op-eds for consideration.

Joseph B. Bruns

BRUNS Commentary: Reform legislation restricts Voice of America too much

Among my problems with HR 4490 is that it restricts US international broadcasting to countries and regions that lack democratic rule, free elections and free media, unless exceptions are granted. It overly restricts to VOA broadcasting news about and news that affects the United States, while most audiences around the world are interested in news that affects THEM; and, as clarified in the Report, the VOA is prohibited from reporting local and regional news of interest to audiences back to them.

To reiterate: Broadcasts should only be directed to closed societies;

The VOA should not cover local and regional news back to those societies;

The VOA should only cover stories that directly affect the US.

I disagree on all three counts.

The legislation that set up the BBG and IBB in the first place was bi-partisan and rushed through Congress. Let’s not make the same mistake again.

Joseph Bruns retired from WETA, the public television and radio station serving the Washington DC metropolitan area, where he was Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer since 2001. Mr. Bruns began his broadcasting career with the Voice of America in 1986, first serving as Executive Assistant to the Director of VOA, later as Chief of Staff and Deputy Director. From January 1993 until March 1994, Mr. Bruns was Acting Director of VOA and Associate Director for Broadcasting of USIA.