BBG Presiding Governor may be absent at next board meeting

BBG Watch Commentary

Sources told BBG Watch that the Broadcasting Board of Governors (BBG) Interim Presiding Governor Michael Lynton has informed the executive staff at the federal agency’s International Broadcasting Bureau (IBB) that he may not be able to attend the next BBG board meeting at the headquarters in Washington, DC. The meeting is scheduled for February 21-22, 2013.

Sources also told BBG Watch that the February BBG board meeting may not have a quorum but will still be held. No votes can be taken without a quorum. One session, whether there is a quorum or not, will be open to the public and is expected be streamed live online.

Board members are expected to hear at their next meeting from the new acting Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty (RFE/RL) President and CEO Kevin Klose how he plans to resolve the crisis at Radio Liberty caused by the firing of dozens of journalists at the RFE/RL Moscow bureau by his predecessor Steven Korn and the continuing boycott of the station by leading Russian opposition political and human rights activists. Klose will visit Moscow before the BBG meeting at the end of this month and some BBG members urged him to meet with the fired journalists and human rights leaders, a source told BBG Watch.

Frequent member absences at board meetings have been a continuing problem. Governor Lynton has missed other BBG meetings or left them early. Some BBG members who had resigned recently had an even worse attendance record, but the Board has received some praise lately for addressing the Radio Liberty crisis and appointing Kevin Klose to be RFE/RL’s acting president and CEO.

If one or two BBG members do not show up for the February meeting, any good publicity from the Kevin Klose appointment will be quickly erased, especially if there is no progress in Moscow, one former U.S. international broadcasting executive told BBG Watch. The question is why some BBG members even bother to stay on the Board if they can’t find time to do their job, the source added.

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