BBG Watch Commentary

Kevin Klose, BBG Meeting, Feb. 2013
Kevin Klose

In the last six months, dozens of Radio Liberty journalists in Russia were fired without any warning, escorted by security guards and told they can’t say good bye to their audience, their pro-human rights programs were cancelled, gender offensive videos were produced, online audience in Russia took a deep dive along with Radio Liberty’s reputation and influence, nearly all major human rights and opposition leaders in Russia turned against it, Russian media stopped citing Radio Liberty news stories, U.S. human rights and media freedom NGOs demanded that the Broadcasting Board of Governors (BBG)–the U.S. federal agency in charge of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty (RFE/RL)–take immediate action to save it, fired journalists launched their own online media outlet, RFE/RL president Steven Korn resigned, and new acting president Kevin Klose was appointed by the BBG to reverse the damage.

Medialogia Citation Index shows significant drop for Radio Liberty (in yellow) since the dismissals in Sept. 2012 and programming changes under the new management.

BBG Watch has learned that two months into his one-year appointment, Kevin Klose, acting with strong encouragement from the majority of the Broadcasting Board of Governors (BBG) members, is moving forward with major personnel and programming changes at the embattled media freedom news organization. In addition to BBG’s Victor Ashe, who had been an outspoken critic of the former RFE/RL management team, Klose has received strong support, particularly from Governor Susan McCue (RFE/RL Board co-chair) and Governor Meehan, as well as from RFE/RL Board chair Dennis Mulhaupt. BBG’s Interim Presiding Governor Michael Lynton has been absent during BBG board and committee meetings during the past two months.

According to our sources, two top level managers of the previous team who were responsible for personnel and administration are leaving RFE/RL. Another top level manager is on extended leave and no longer has any input into decision making at the U.S. taxpayer-funded institution providing uncensored news to nations without free media. New managers will be appointed soon by Klose to carry out administrative and programming reforms.

We are also told that Kevin Klose’s next project, which the majority of BBG members strongly support, is the rehiring of fired Radio Liberty journalists in Moscow. Klose will carry out major reforms designed to stop audience loss and restore the station’s image and effectiveness as an independent multimedia news organization in Russia, sources told BBG Watch. Big changes are expected. Stay tuned.

The job is not yet finished, but we want to thank the BBG and Kevin Klose for making a good start.