BBG Watch Commentary

Voice of America’s (VOA) declining relevance as an international media outlet was once again illustrated by dismal audience engagement figures for its first full Facebook post on Fidel Castro’s death when compared to audience engagement figures for similar Facebook posts from Russia’s RT and BBC.

As of 5:50 pm ET Saturday, November 26, VOA’s first Facebook post on Castro’s death was showing:

VOA – 379 Likes

VOA – 19 Shares

VOA – 13 Comments

Also note that both RT and BBC had their first Facebook post on Castro’s death about ten (10) hours before VOA posted its first full-content post (not counting the breaking news headline and a photo gallery, which had been posted earlier).

RT’s first Facebook post on Castro’s death was showing:


RT – 11,000 Likes

RT – 11,000 Shares

RT – 1,100 Comments

BBC’s first Facebook post on Castro’s death was showing:


BBC – 56,000 Likes

BBC – 37,168 Shares

BBC – 3,683 Comments

On November 17, Voice of America’s parent agency, the Broadcasting Board of Governors (BBG) reported “A record for Voice of America’s global audience growth.”

Those familiar with the BBG and its bureaucracy, which then Secretary of State Hillary Clinton called in 2013 “practically defunct,” dismiss BBG’s audience claims are bogus or misleading because they include VOA placement programs in countries with free media, as well as programs which have been pre-censored by VOA to achieve placement.

As former Voice of America senior White House correspondent Dan Robinson wrote in an article for the University of Southern California Center on Public Diplomacy CPD Blog BBG “CEO John Lansing and VOA director Amanda Bennett are busy issuing upbeat memos, including one containing this whopper: a claim that the BBG weekly worldwide audience rose across all delivery platforms, from 226 million to 278 million—in one year.”

“As the saying goes,” Dan Robinson noted, “if you believe this then I have a used car, or a bridge, to sell you. Or as one of my former VOA colleagues puts it: ‘It’s incredible, because it’s not credible’.”

One can look at the number of Facebook Likes and Comments for VOA’s, RT’s, and BBC’s Castro posts. Dan Robinson is absolutely right, if you believe in BBG’s audience claims for the Voice of America “then I have a used car, or a bridge, to sell you.”