At House Foreign Affairs Committee hearing: dismantling BBG, moving VOA to State, and other ideas.

Posted: 03 Jul 2013   Print   Send a link
House Foreign Affairs Committee, 26 June 2013, hearing "Broadcasting Board of Governors: An Agency 'Defunct'": With video of the hearing, opening statement by chairman Ed Royce (R-CA), and prepared statements by the three witnesses, former BBG chairman James K. Glassman and former BBG members Enders Wimbush and Jeffrey Hirschberg.

See Kim's comments, "The Battle for the Soul of U.S. International Broadcasting," about the hearing and the future of US international broadcasting.

USC Center on Public Diplomacy, 26 June 2013, Emily T. Metzgar: "Today’s event on Capitol Hill broke no new ground in the debate about how to address well-recognized difficulties in the operation of U.S. international broadcasting. But the hearing carried tremendous symbolic importance: First, the subject of USIB was the focus of a nearly two-hour hearing of the House Foreign Affairs Committee. Second, discussion took as a given the litany of problems increasingly associated with the BBG, evidenced in everything from the reports of outside consultants, to consistently low employee morale, to damning GAO and OIG accounts of the status quo. Finally, both members and witnesses spoke directly about the role of USIB as part of America’s public diplomacy efforts, thus successfully framing any future hearings, debates and legislative action as more than just requisite Congressional oversight but as real foreign policy imperatives. And that is a step in the right direction."

Heritage Foundation, 1 July 2013, Helle Dale: "A potential solution akin to the vision presented by James Glassman is to dismantle the BBG entirely and place Voice of America within the State Department, thus tying its mission closely to support of U.S. foreign policy. The surrogate broadcasters—Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, Radio Free Asia, Alhurra Television, Radio Sawa, and the Office of Cuba Broadcasting—whose journalistic mission is more closely allied to democracy-building, might find a home with the semi-independent National Endowment for Democracy. Most encouragingly, Congress has finally shown a willingness to engage in oversight of this important, struggling tool of U.S. public diplomacy. Such congressional engagement is critically important for a more effective use of U.S. taxpayer dollars—and more effective broadcasting of news and American values to people around the world."

Ibid, S. Enders Wimbush responding: "Not surprisingly, I was both startled and amused to read Ms. Dale advocating for putting the Voice of America under its jurisdiction. Surely this is a strange position for someone from the Heritage Foundation. Apart from its statist overtones, locating the VOA in State is by definition putting it under the direction of the Secretary of State. Would Ms. Dale and Heritage be comfortable with Secretary Clinton or Secretary Kerry mobilizing the VOA to support their understanding of the failures in Benghazi, inaction in Syria, or the Russia 'reset' to a global audience?"

Radio World, 26 June 2013, Leslie Stimson: "To save federal dollars and efficiently target its resources, the witnesses and lawmakers discussed possibly eliminating some duplicative languages between all the broadcast services and/or cutting duplicative back office functions for each of the broadcasters. The hearing adjourned with no discussion of the next step."

VOA News, 26 June 2013, Cindy Saine: "After the hearing, the BBG gave VOA a statement saying the current BBG board has been working on ways to address the structural issue, reduce overlap and promote innovation, with the aim of providing the best support possible for its award-winning journalists' work around the globe, under increasingly tight budget constraints." With video report.