BBG Watch Commentary

Contrary to assurances by International Broadcasting Bureau (IBB) executives that the Smith-Mundt Modernization Act of 2012 would increase domestic public support for U.S. international broadcasting, the raging controversy, which these officials did not predict, is hurting the reputation of USIB journalists and in the long run may harm programs serving audiences abroad.

Committee for U.S. International Broadcasting Director Ted Lipien published an op-ed article on the Smith-Mundt Modernization Act controversy.

From the CUSIB website:

CUSIB’s Ted Lipien on domestic controversy over Smith-Mundt Modernization Act

Ted LipienCommittee for U.S. International Broadcasting Director Ted Lipien has published an op-ed in Digital Journal in which he argues that U.S. international broadcasts “should continue to serve America’s security interests and enrich media media freedom abroad, as the U.S. Congress intended and U.S. taxpayers wanted them to be.”

Lipien expressed concern that the current controversy over the Smith-Mundt Modernization Act of 2012 can undermine U.S. public support for U.S. government-funded media outreach abroad which is desperately needed for people in countries without free media.

“Supporters of U.S. international broadcasting fear that government officials might divert resources from serving audiences in countries without free media to expand into the U.S. market, where they would compete against domestic commercial media. It would be a waste of tax money that the U.S. Congress intended to use for foreign audiences, critics say.”

Lipien noted that U.S. officials in the International Broadcasting Bureau (IBB) insist that they have no intention of targeting Americans or producing programs for the domestic media market. He added that “rigorous congressional and public oversight will be needed to hold them to that promise.”

CUSIB believes that putting all USIB content in the public domain but without getting U.S. government officials involved in its distribution domestically would have been a better solution and might have avoided most of the controversy.

Read more: “Op-Ed: Federal employees identify U.S. stations for government-paid news” by Ted Lipien, Digital Journal, July 27, 2013.