U.S. Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen

Speaking at the conclusion of today’s House Committee on Foreign Affairs hearing on the Broadcasting Board of Governors (BBG), Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R – FL) called for replacing the agency’s management in charge of international broadcasts and other news programs. She said that managers who do not understand what U.S. international broadcasting mission is should be changed. Rep. Ros-Lehtinen read the Broadcasting Board of Governors’ mission statement which says that the agency’s purpose is “To inform, engage, and connect people around the world in support of freedom and democracy.” She put emphasis on “support for freedom and democracy.”

“And I again remind our witnesses, our audience, and members that the mission of the Broadcasting Board of Governors is: Quote. ‘To inform, engage, and connect people around the world in support of freedom and democracy.’ End Quote. This is broadcast for freedom and democracy. If you think that this is an impartial broadcasting, then you’re not fulfilling your mission because you are supposed to stand for freedom and democracy. That is the direction, that is what the BBG is supposed to do.

We don’t have to change the mission, we have to change the folks in charge of the programing who don’t have any idea what their mission is.

So, this is an important mission, it’s of great interest to this committee.

Support for freedom and democracy. Amen.”

Earlier during the hearing, Rep. Eliot Engel (D – NY) noted the Office of Personnel Management (OPM) surveys showing that the management of U.S. international broadcasting is rated as being among the worst in the entire federal government.

U.S. Rep. Ed Royce (R-CA), Chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, convened the hearing entitled The Broadcasting Board of Governors: An Agency ‘Defunct’.”

The BBG oversees the Voice of America, Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, Radio Free Asia, Radio and TV Marti, and the Middle East Broadcast Networks.

In a statement issue before the hearing, Rep. Royce said:

“International broadcasting is a key tool of U.S. diplomacy. Unfortunately, it’s broken. As Secretary Clinton rightly pointed out earlier this year, ‘the BBG is practically defunct in terms of its capacity to be able to tell a message around the world.’ It is time to take a hard look at the BBG and ask if our resources, nearly $750 million annually, are being spent wisely – are we getting what we need from these broadcasting efforts? We aren’t, and it is time for broad reforms; ‘tinkering’ and ‘band-aid’ solutions are not an option, because the stakes are too great.”

The witnesses were:

Witness List:

The Honorable James K. Glassman
Founding Executive Director
George W. Bush Institute
(Former Chairman of the Broadcasting Board of Governors, and Former Under Secretary of State for Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs)

The Honorable S. Enders Wimbush
Executive Director for Strategy & Development
National Bureau of Asian Research
(Former Governor of the Broadcasting Board of Governors)

The Honorable D. Jeff Hirschberg
The Northeast Maglev, LLC
(Former Governor of the Broadcasting Board of Governors)

The entire hearing can be watched at this link.

Link to Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen’s concluding statement.

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