BBG Watch Commentary

BBG Governor Matthew Armstrong
BBG Governor Matthew Armstrong

President Obama announced his intent to nominate Matthew C. Armstrong to serve as a member of the Broadcasting Board of Governors (BBG), the bipartisan federal board in charge of U.S. international broadcasting. The board is now down to five members, instead of nine, and has as its Interim Presiding Governor, Michael Lynton, who has not been showing up for meetings in recent months. Armstrong is a Republican nominee. He will presumably fill a vacancy created with the departure of Dana Perino.

Matt Armstrong, and another nominee Jeff Shell who is President Obama’s Democratic choice to become the BBG chairman, still have to be confirmed by the U.S. Senate. The confirmation process can take several months.

Meanwhile, because of Michael Lynton’s prolonged and unexplained absence, the BBG board cannot hold formal meetings or vote on pressing issues. Their last meeting on April 11 was not a formal meeting.

Three BBG members, Ambassador Victor Ashe, Susan McCue and Michael Meehen, however, have been active in trying to provide leadership and oversight. They have been supported by Under Secretary of State for Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs Tara Sonenshine who represents Secretary Kerry at BBG meetings. They can still vote as corporate board members of various BBG private broadcasting entities. They have been especially engaged lately in pushing for management reforms at Radio Free Europe / Radio Liberty (RFE/RL) and have selected Kevin Klose as RFE/RL’s new acting president.

Matt Armstrong served as Executive Director of the U.S. Advisory Commission on Public Diplomacy. He is a publisher of the MountainRunner blog on public diplomacy and strategic communication. His expertise is mainly in public diplomacy and journalism, but he has been publishing articles on his blog on U.S. international broadcasting, both his own and by other experts.

In January 2012, Armstrong published an article by the Committee for U.S. International Broadcasting (CUSIB) director Ted Lipien outlining what kind of members and vision the Boadcasting Board of Governors should have, “U.S. international broadcasting needs a new leadership, new plan, and more public scrutiny,”, January 30, 2012.

BBG Watch welcomes the nomination of Matt Armstrong to serve on the BBG board. His expertise in public diplomacy will strengthen this very important institution and will help other BBG members and any future CEO in their efforts to reform the International Broadcasting Bureau (IBB), the worst managed organization within the federal government. We hope that Mr. Armstrong will help to transform the IBB from a centralized bureaucracy bent on increasing its power into a lean support organization that serves rather than issues commands to individual media entities.

Office of the Press Secretary
April 11, 2013

President Obama Announces Another Key Administration Post
WASHINGTON, DC – Today, President Barack Obama announced his intent to nominate the following individual to a key Administration post:
·         Matthew C. Armstrong – Member, Broadcasting Board of Governors  
President Obama announced his intent to nominate the following individual to a key Administration post:
Matthew C. Armstrong, Nominee for Member, Broadcasting Board of Governors

Matthew C. Armstrong is an author, speaker, and strategist on issues related to public diplomacy.  In 2011, he served as Executive Director of the U.S. Advisory Commission on Public Diplomacy.  Previously, Mr. Armstrong was an adjunct professor of public diplomacy at the Annenberg School of Journalism and Communication at the University of Southern California.  In 2010, he founded and served as President of the MountainRunner Institute and published a blog on public diplomacy and strategic communication.  He is a member of the Board of Directors of the Public Diplomacy Council and a member of the International Institute of Strategic Studies.  Mr. Armstrong received a B.A. and an M.P.D. from the University of Southern California.