BBG Watch Commentary

Rep. Ed Royce
Rep. Ed Royce

Rep. Ed Royce (R-CA), Chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, has published a Letter to the Editor in response to a recent Washington Post editorial about the bipartisan 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, was introduced on April 28, 2014 by Rep. Ed Royce (R-CA) and Rep. Eliot Engel (D-NY) and approved unanimously by the House Foreign Affairs Committee. It now awaits further legislative action in Congress.

Letter to the Editor

The danger to Voice of America is maintaining the status quo

The June 8 editorial “An independent voice” discounted the problems plaguing U.S. international broadcasting and understated the need for fundamental reform.

While our foes are working 24/7 to demonize the United States, the management of our international broadcasting meets once a month. Former secretary of state Hillary Clinton rightfully called U.S. international broadcasting “practically defunct.” That is why the House Foreign Affairs Committee recently passed bipartisan legislation to overhaul it.

As the legislation recognizes, we should be aligning our broadcasting efforts with our foreign policy objectives — the taxpayer-funded Voice of America is not just another news outlet. The editorial overlooked that this is consistent with VOA’s current mandate, which requires the organization to “present the views of the United States government” and “be consistent with the broad foreign policy objectives of the United States.”

Mandating quarterly meetings with the State Department is hardly a slippery slope to propaganda. Indeed, the secretary of state is a member of the Broadcasting Board of Governors, the VOA’s parent body. And as far as an “exodus” of journalists from the VOA? Their own union calls the “status quo . . . more dangerous to the existence of the VOA than the enactment of this Bill.”

Freedom of information around the world is essential for our national security objectives. The real “dangerous step” would be to do nothing.

Edward R. Royce, Washington

The writer, a Republican, represents California’s 39th District in the House, where he chairs the Foreign Affairs Committee.

LINK to the Letter as published by The Washington Post.