BBG executive staff reorganization: potentially good news
The International Broadcasting Bureau director Richard Lobo has just announced a Congress-approved reorganization of the Broadcasting Board of Governors executive and strategic planning staff. BBG executives who have until now reported directly to the board will now report to the IBB director.
The affected offices been responsible for putting the BBG on a collision course with Congress and media freedom groups by advocating broadcasting cuts to strategically important countries and pushing an audience building agenda at the expense of hard news and human rights reporting. The BBG’s latest statement on threats against journalists around the world failed to mention China and Russia, the two countries where the executive staff’s push for more soft Internet-delivered programming has been the strongest.
It is not clear whether the reorganization will lead to a change of direction in both strategic thinking and management practices at the BBG. The latest BBG meeting gave no indication that the board plans to put the journalistic mission ahead of the marketing strategy and VOA broadcasting cuts favored by the executive staff.
Executives affected by the reorganization have embarrassed the BBG with a number of blunders and bad predictions, including ending VOA broadcasts to Russia just days before the Russian military attack on the Republic of Georgia, announcing the end of VOA Chinese broadcasts just before the start of the Jasmine Revolution, and selecting the anniversary of the founding of communist China for implementing their plan, which members of Congress are now trying to block. They have also sent three BBG members on an ill-conceived trip to Ethiopia, which led to censorship of VOA news reports to that country run by one of the most repressive regime in Africa.
No new role has been announced for BBG executive director Jeffrey N. Trimble. He served as an advisor to the board on developments in international broadcasting and managed the BBG staff, which provided strategic guidance and program oversight. Prior to joining the BBG in 2007, Trimble had a 10-year career at RFE/RL. He also worked at U.S. News & World Report magazine for 15 years.
Richard M. Lobo, the current Director of the International Broadcasting Bureau, was appointed by the U.S. President and confirmed by the Senate. Prior to his appointment as IBB Director, Dick Lobo served as chairman of the Florida Public Broadcasting Service, Inc. He was also president and chief executive officer of WEDU (PBS) Tampa/St. Petersburg/Sarasota. Lobo previously was president and general manager of WTVJ in Miami, station manager of WNBC-TV in New York, and vice president and general manager of NBC stations in Chicago and Cleveland.
He served as director of the Office of Cuba Broadcasting in the mid-1990s. An Emmy Award-winning journalist, Lobo has also been honored with the New York Black Citizens for a Fair Media’s Community Service Award, the Wall Street Chapter of IMAGE’s Hispanic Executive Award, and the Leadership Award of the Chicago Latino Committee on the Media. Under his direction as general manager of WTVJ, the station won the Peabody Award, the duPont Award, and the Edward R. Murrow Award for its coverage of the devastation wrought by Hurricane Andrew in 1992.
A graduate of the University of Miami, Lobo has served on the board of the Florida Association of Broadcasters, was a member of the National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences’ Suncoast chapter, and is the recipient of its Silver Circle Award. He was recent inductee into the Tampa Bay Business Hall of Fame. The Sarasota Chapter of the American Jewish Committee presented Lobo and his wife with the Civic Achievement Award. Lobo is a Captain (Retired) in the U.S. Army Reserve.
Text of IBB administrative notice to IBB staff
In the September 15 meeting of the Broadcasting Board of Governors, the Board announced that Congress concurs with the merger and reorganization of BBG/IBB staffs. This reorganization was mandated by the Board as one of a number of steps to streamline governance, strengthen the Board’s oversight of program performance, and facilitate collaboration among the Federal and non-Federal elements. The Board’s goal is to enable the Agency to expand U.S. international broadcasting and solidify our standing as one of the most important and effective sources of news, information and audience engagement in the world.
We will communicate with and engage the affected staffs to help determine how to best implement the restructuring outlined in the attached organizational charts.
We expect this process will take several weeks to complete. We ask for your patience as we move forward. We will keep the lines of communication open. Your cooperation and assistance in implementing these changes are important to our shared success.
Thank you in advance for your help during this transition.
International Broadcasting Bureau