BBG Watch Commentary
The House Committee on Foreign Affairs, chaired by Republican Ed Royce of California, in close cooperation with Ranking Democratic Member Eliot Engel of New York, has created a special bipartisan website page, Reforming U.S. International Broadcasting, with information about H.R. 4490, the United States International Communications Reform Act to improve the missions, objectives, and effectiveness of U.S. international broadcasters. (Introduced on April 28, 2014 by Rep. Ed Royce (R-CA) and Rep. Eliot Engel (D-NY)).
The House Foreign Affairs Committee page includes links to editorials and articles in The Wall Street Journal, Commentary, and The Hill. Some fear that the bill puts too much emphasis on the public diplomacy component of Voice of America, but others have pointed out that it is not nearly as strong as it was when VOA was still part of the former United States Information Agency (USIA) and yet in later years managed to preserve its journalistic independence thanks to the VOA Charter passed by Congress in 1976. Defenders of the bill point out that the dysfunctional Voice of America and International Broadcasting Bureau (IBB) senior management represents a far greater threat to VOA’s journalistic independence by imposing on VOA journalists subjective private mandates that have nothing to do with the VOA Charter.
The Hill article has comments in support of the reform bill by Ted Lipien, former Voice of America acting associate director in charge of central news and co-founder of the NGO Committee for U.S. International Broadcasting (CUSIB – cusib.org). Lipien who directs another media freedom organization, Free Media Online, which supports the publication of BBG Watch, expressed his strong backing of the legislation in a Digital Journal op-ed as absolutely necessary to eliminate mismanagement, which he described as the greatest threat to U.S. international media outreach and journalistic independence of the Voice of America. He also wrote that some modifications to the bill to further strengthen the VOA Charter and to prevent outside interference with VOA news, either from U.S. government or foreign governments, might further improve the legislation.
BBG Watch has reproduced the House Foreign Affairs Committee special web page. The original House Foreign Affairs Committee web page, which should be checked regularly for any updates, can be seen HERE, or by clicking on the Reforming U.S. International Broadcasting title below.
“Broadcasting Board of Governors is practically defunct in terms of its capacity to be able to tell a message around the world.” – Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, January 23, 2013, Testimony to the House Committee on Foreign Affairs (Watch the video here.)
“I, along with some of my board colleagues, have consistently advocated for necessary and far-reaching reform of the governance structure and organization of U. S. international broadcasting (USIB). My belief in the importance and need for these reforms has only grown stronger the longer I have served.” – Dennis Mulhaupt, April 9, 2013, Resignation letter from the BBG Board
Royce/Engel U.S. International Broadcasting Reform Legislation
H.R. 4490, the United States International Communications Reform Act to improve the missions, objectives, and effectiveness of U.S. international broadcasters. (Introduced on April 28, 2014 by Rep. Ed Royce (R-CA) and Rep. Eliot Engel (D-NY)).
News Releases on Reforming U.S. International Broadcasting
Hearings on Reforming U.S. International Broadcasting
View Archive Hearing Video:
Secretary of State Hillary Clinton Calls BBG Defunct