Internet Radio

1. Bureaucrats gave listeners little time to learn about shortwave cuts by VOA, RFA, and RFE/RL

In deciding suddenly with only a two-days notice on the date for shortwave radio broadcasting cuts, executives in charge of the International Broadcasting Bureau (IBB), which operates radio transmissions for the Broadcasting Board of Governors (BBG), have once again shown little consideration for loyal radio listeners of many years, as well as for Voice of America (VOA), Radio Free Asia (RFA), and Radio Free Europe / Radio Liberty (RFE/RL) journalists and broadcasters who prepare shortwave radio broadcasts.

The news of terminations of broadcasts definitely came as a complete surprise to VOA radio listeners and VOA broadcasters who put these programs on the air. READ MORE

Dan Robinson
Dan Robinson

2. Voice of America White House correspondent told BBG Board why VOA reporters are leaving

“It is my assessment that VOA’s plummeting reputation and ongoing management issues severely impacted our access when it came to news coverage and presidential interviews.” — Voice of America Senior White House Correspondent Dan Robinson

Experienced and highly respected journalists are leaving Voice of America, blaming it on mismanagement and hostile work environment. READ MORE

DW Homepage

3. In-depth U.S news analysis more likely at Deutsche Welle and BBC than Voice of America

Some of the best in-depth reporting and analysis of U.S. — news custom-written for international audiences with the necessary historical, political, cultural and legal context — is found more consistently these days on the website of the German taxpayer-funded external media outlet Deutsche Welle (DW) than the U.S. taxpayer-funded Voice of America (VOA), which is also targeting overseas audiences.

DW executives apparently still believe in serious high quality journalism and in-depth analysis and make sure DW delivers it. The German international media outlet has a website worth checking, not just for German and European news, but also for solid and interesting reporting and analysis on U.S. and international news.

That kind of news reporting and analysis has been missing lately at the Voice of America — not only having been replaced with fluff journalism being pushed by top VOA executives and strategic planners in recent years, but also due to infrequent updating and posting of news stories by VOA caused by management imposed cuts in the VOA Central Newsroom which serves 45 VOA language services, including the English service and website. READ MORE

VOA Director David Ensor

4. Voice of America Director Ensor mocked a watch dog website comparing it to Jehovah’s Witnesses’ religious magazine

Voice of America (VOA) Director David Ensor, who is a high-level U.S. federal government official with an annual salary of over $170,000, used a holiday employee party to participate in a skit in which he mocked an independent U.S. watch dog website, BBG Watch, by comparing its audience numbers to those of The Watchtower, an illustrated religious magazine published semimonthly in 228 languages by Jehovah’s Witnesses. In his skit, which was supposed to be funny, Ensor did not make fun of himself, his top deputies, VOA’s numerous news failures, President Putin, Iran’s ayatollahs or ISIS. His skit was focused entirely on our independent U.S. watch dog website which does not cost U.S. taxpayers a single penny. Part of VOA’s mission is to support freedom of expression and free media abroad by providing uncensored news and information.

Just in case Mr. Ensor does not know it, Jehovah’s Witnesses are persecuted in many countries. READ MORE

Capitol Hill

5. Major reform of U.S. international broadcasting and public diplomacy to be proposed in Congress

BBG Watch has learned that a draft bill originating in the House Foreign Affairs Committee, which has U.S. Rep. Ed Royce (R-CA) as Chairman and U.S. Rep. Eliot Engel (D-NY) as Ranking Member, would, if passed by Congress and signed by the President, radically reform the Broadcasting Board of Governors (BBG), an agency currently in charge of U.S. international media outreach. The United States International Broadcasting Act of 1994 (22 U.S.C. 6201 et seq.; title III of Public Law 103–236) would be repealed under this draft bill if it were to become law. The draft bill appears to be a bipartisan effort to address problems in how the part-time Broadcasting Board of Governors manages U.S. international media outreach through its large, expanding and highly dysfunctional International Broadcasting (IBB) bureaucracy. Lawmakers also appear to want to address serious management issues at the Voice of America (VOA). They also want to improve U.S. public diplomacy. Sources told BBG Watch that the Senate Foreign Relations Committee was also involved in the drafting of the bill in a completely bipartisan effort. READ MORE


6. Will Voice of America management violate VOA Charter and U.S. law in a deal with communist Vietnam?

More specifically, this is an initiative of the Voice of America (VOA) senior management working with the BBG’s International Broadcasting Bureau (IBB).

We assume that the VOA and IBB management is fully aware that this program placement, while it may be desirable in their view for increasing audience size in Vietnam, will be in clear violation of the Voice of America Charter and therefore U.S. law. They know very well that the communist government of Vietnam will not allow VOA through this program placement to “serve as a consistently reliable and authoritative source of news,” nor will this program placement allow VOA news to “be accurate, objective, and comprehensive,” as required by the VOA Charter.

The proposed contract announces that the Voice of America program produced for placement will not include any political news, which represents VOA’s agreement to censor itself and a violation of the VOA Charter. READ MORE

VOA Map Showing Crimea As Not Part of Ukraine

7. Crimea no longer part of Ukraine on Voice of America map

A map posted on U.S. taxpayer-funded Voice of America (VOA) news website no longer shows Crimea as part of Ukraine.

UPDATE: After the publication of the BBG Watch article, the map was removed from the Voice of America website. It stayed on the VOA site all day Monday, April 7 and most of the night of April 8, 2014.

LATEST UPDATE: After protests were sent to the Broadcasting Board of Governors (BBG) that the map contradicted U.S. policy, VOA removed the map after about 24 hours and later inserted a corrected map.

A check of the VOA English Facebook page at 2:30 AM EDT on April 8, 2014 showed that it had not been updated for 11 hours — yet another sign of the failure of VOA’s top management. READ MORE

ALSO SEE: U.S. BBG pays for faulty, favoring Kremlin propaganda poll in Russia-annexed Crimea

Andy Lack
Andy Lack

8. EXCLUSIVE Broadcasting Board of Governors voted to offer CEO job to Andy Lack of Bloomberg

BBG Watch has confirmed that Broadcasting Board of Governors (BBG) members voted Friday to offer new job of the CEO of U.S. taxpayer-funded international broadcasting and other media outreach abroad to Andrew R. Lack, Chairman of Bloomberg Media Group, Bloomberg L.P.

Andrew R. Lack, age 66, also known as Andy, has had a distinguished career in television journalism before becoming a highly successful media executive. He started his career in broadcasting by joining CBS News in 1976, where he remained until 1993, when he was named the president of NBC News. At CBS News, he served as a producer on 60 Minutes and CBS Reports. READ MORE

ALSO SEE: BBG CEO-Designate Andy Lack Meets CUSIB Supporters of U.S. International Media

OIG BBG Audit April 2014

9. Voice of America wasted estimated millions on improper contract payments, Radio Free Asia gets clean bill of health

Yet another Office of Inspector General (OIG) investigation shows that while Voice of America (VOA), the International Broadcasting Bureau (IBB) and the Office of Cuba Broadcasting (OCB) — all three within the federal structure of the Broadcasting Board of Governors (BBG) — are mismanaged and waste taxpayers’ money on improper payments to contractors, BBG’s semi-private grantee media outlets, such as Radio Free Asia (RFA), Radio Free Europe / Radio Liberty (RFE/RL) and Middle East Broadcasting Networks (MBN), which receive far less money than VOA and IBB, are better managed and spend federal money wisely.

The highest projected improper payments of $7.8 million (15.7 percent) were made by the poorly managed Voice of America. READ MORE

Gary Thomas
Gary Thomas

10. Former senior correspondents discuss mismanagement at Voice of America

Voice of America (VOA) executives, whose salaries are paid by American taxpayers, describe these former senior VOA correspondents as disgruntled. But after talking to inside sources and reviewing documents, BBG Watch can report that Gary Thomas and Dan Robinson are highly respected by their VOA colleagues for their journalistic work, work ethic, and courage.

We have also discovered that many current and former VOA correspondents feel exactly the same way about the senior management as Thomas and Robinson do and have also expressed their criticism in various forms over the years.

Other VOA employees have not been as vocal as Robinson and Thomas, fearing reprisals in an agency with a hostile management and one of the lowest employee morale ratings in the entire federal government, but they have made their views known to us, as well as to members of VOA’s oversight board, the Broadcasting Board of Governors (BBG).

It is no secret to anyone that Voice of America has been badly managed for the last several years. READ MORE