CUSIB Executive Director Ann Noonan Speaks at BBG Meeting, Demands Reinstatement of Fired Radio Liberty Journalists

Ann Noonan, Executive Director, CUSIB

Ann Noonan, Executive Director, CUSIB

In addressing the Broadcasting Board of Governors (BBG) open board meeting in Washington on Friday, the Committee for U.S. International Broadcasting (CUSIB – cusib.org) Executive Director Ann Noonan called for the reinstatement of fired Radio Liberty journalists. She was invited to speak as a member of the public at the request of BBG member Ambassador Victor Ashe.

Noonan called the firing of dozens of Radio Liberty journalists in Moscow on orders of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty (RFE/RL) President and CEO Steven Korn an “outrage against U.S. public diplomacy and human decency.” CUSIB is an independent, nonpartisan organization founded by Ann Noonan and former BBG and Voice of America executive Ted Lipien. During the last two years, CUSIB has been instrumental in helping to save VOA broadcasting to China and Tibet, which BBG officials wanted to eliminate.

BBG Interim Presiding Governor Michael Lynton announced at the Friday meeting that a senior BBG executive, the International Broadcasting Bureau (IBB) Deputy Director Jeff Trimble, will lead a review of what happened at the Radio Liberty Moscow bureau. The future of RFE/RL President Steven Korn is unclear at this time.

Reposted from CUSIB – cusib.org website.

December 14, 2012
For Immediate Release

CUSIB Executive Director Ann Noonan Speaks at BBG Meeting, Demands Reinstatement of Fired Radio Liberty Journalists

 

The Committee for U.S. International Broadcasting (CUSIB – cusib.org) Executive Director Ann Noonan called for the reinstatement of fired Radio Liberty journalists. She spoke at the open board meeting Friday in Washington of the Broadcasting Board of Governors (BBG), the federal agency which oversees Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty (RFE/RL) and other taxpayer-funded U.S. international broadcasting and news operations for audiences overseas.

In her public statement, which the BBG board allowed her to make at the end of the meeting at the request of Governor Victor Ashe, Noonan pointed out that the chairwoman of the Moscow Helsinki Group, Lyudmila Alexeeva, said that neither Russia’s President Vladimir Putin nor the former KGB were able to damage Radio Liberty more than Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty President and CEO Steven Korn. She mentioned that Freedom House has sharply criticized him for his actions at Radio Liberty in Russia and that Freedom House’s President said that Mr. Korn had done to Radio Liberty what Putin never could have done.

Ann Noonan also pointed out in her statement to the BBG board during an open meeting which was streamed online that RFE/RL management fired Bella Kaloeva and Aleksey Kuznetsov, two fully qualified and fully capable employees with disabilities and replaced them with less qualified and less experienced non-disabled new employees. She also noted that the firing of experienced and highly respected journalists and the decision to de-emphasize news and news analysis and to replace them on the Radio Liberty Russian home page with soft feature stories has produced a more than 50 percent decline in site visitors in just two months.

Noonan also defended RFE/RL Kazakh Service journalists who were fired or whose contracts were not renewed. She urged protections for freedom of expression for RFE/RL staffers:

“One additional item I’d like to make a matter of record today is about the firing of four Radio Liberty Kazakh Service journalists last June and the production by RFE/RL of offensive, sexually suggestive videos for this largely Muslim nation. Especially disturbing was the non-renewal of the contract for a young Kazakh woman journalist Nazira Darimbet, who objected to these videos being posted and questioned RFE/RL President Steven Korn about the firing of Radio Liberty journalists in Moscow.”

Full text of Ann Noonan’s public statement during the BBG meeting in Washington, D.C., December 14, 2012:

Statement by Ann Noonan
Executive Director
Committee for U.S. International Broadcasting
December 14, 2012
BBG Meeting, Washington, DC

Thank you for welcoming me to attend this meeting. I am delighted that the public is now able to attend the BBG’s open meetings. Thank you also for permitting me to speak as part of what we hope will be the first of many public comments at open BBG meetings. As you know, public comments are a valuable part of our democracy, and I am hopeful that you will encourage future participation of organizations and individuals to be a part of the process.

As you know, the Committee for US International Broadcasting is a non-partisan, non-governmental organization that supports journalism for media freedom and human rights.

1. The first item I’d like to mention is September’s mass firing of Radio Liberty (Radio Svoboda) journalists, web editors and other staffers. We remain aggrieved that it has taken the BBG so long to remedy this outrage against US public diplomacy and human decency.

2. I’d like to point out that RFE/RL management fired Bella Kaloeva and Aleksey Kuznetsov, two fully qualified and fully capable employees with disabilities and replaced them with less qualified and less experienced non-disabled new employees.

3. I’d also like to point out that the firing of experienced and highly respected journalists and the decision to de-emphasize news and news analysis and to replace it on the Radio Liberty Russian home page with soft feature stories has produced a more than 50 percent decline in site visitors in just two months.

4. The chairwoman of the Moscow Helsinki Group Lyudmila Alexeeva, said that neither Putin nor the former KGB were able to damage Radio Liberty more than Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty President and CEO Steven Korn. Freedom House has sharply criticized Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty President and CEO Steven Korn for his actions at Radio Liberty in Russia. Freedom House’s President said that Mr. Korn had done to Radio Liberty what Putin never could have done.

5. One additional item I’d like to make a matter of record today is about the firing of four Radio Liberty Kazakh Service journalists last June and the production by RFE/RL of offensive, sexually suggestive videos for this largely Muslim nation. Especially disturbing was the non-renewal of the contract for a young Kazakh woman journalist Nazira Darimbet who objected to these videos being posted and questioned RFE/RL President Steven Korn about the firing of Radio Liberty journalists in Moscow.

CUSIB joins the growing number of political and human rights leaders in their many appeals to the Broadcasting Board of Governors to restore all of the fired Radio Liberty journalists to their rightful posts. All of these journalists must be returned to their jobs and management and personnel practices at RFE/RL investigated by the BBG to allow freedom of expression and prevent programming mistakes.

Thank you.

At the end of the BBG meeting, Governor Ashe reminded the board and the online audience that a BBG executive, the International Broadcasting Bureau (IBB) Deputy Director Jeff Trimble, has been asked by the board to lead a review of the events at the RFE/RL Moscow bureau. Governor Michael Meehan said that the board has been looking into the situation at RFE/RL.

For further information, please contact:

Ann Noonan, co-founder and Executive Director
Tel. 646-251-6069

Ted Lipien, co-founder
Tel. 415-793-1642

The Committee for U.S. International Broadcasting (CUSIB) is a nonpartisan, nongovernmental organization working to strengthen free flow of uncensored news from the United States to countries with restricted and developing media environments.

www.cusib.orgCUSIB - Supporting journalism for media freedom and human rights

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