Senate Committee to BBG: Hands off China Broadcasting — Dr. Helle Dale, Heritage Foundation


Dr. Helle Dale of the Heritage Foundation, who keeps a close eye on the Broadcasting Board of Governors and U.S. international broadcasting, noted in the foundation’s blog that the Senate Committee on Appropriations put a break this week on the BBG’s plans to end Voice of America radio and television broadcasts to China.
Pointing out that at least for the moment Congress apparently has prevented the BBG from making a huge strategic mistake, Dr. Helle writes about disturbing levels of incompetence and mismanagement at the BBG:

As an organization detached from State or any other government agency, the BBG has operated with a level of unaccountability that cries out to be addressed. In surveys of job satisfaction among federal employees (including the just-released Office of Personnel Management survey), the BBG ranks 37th out of 37 government agencies, in part because the staff is consistently mystified by management decisions. The BBG’s new communications director, hired to cope with the fallout of the China cuts and reach out to think tanks, announced on Tuesday that she would be leaving as of October 7 after just a few months on the job.

Dr. Helle argues in her article for close congressional oversight and the long-term goal of reintegration of the BBG into the U.S. government’s foreign policy strategy and organization. Read more of Dr. Helle’s article.
We would like to clarify one point. In proposing to end Voice of America radio and TV broadcasts to China, the Broadcasting Board of Governors was not proposing to save U.S. taxpayers $8 million. The money recovered by VOA going silent in China was to be spent on hiring more BBG bureaucrats and private contractors.
Not only members of Congress were outraged by this plan, so were Chinese human rights activists, free media advocates, U.S. human rights NGOs, and independent journalists.
BBG media spinners tried to present its crtitics as being in love with shortwave radio and nothing else, when in fact the critics were advocating a sensible multimedia strategy, including satellite TV delivery, which the BBG wanted to end as well. The BBG strategy of confronting human rights advocates and members of Congress backfired.
The BBG plan was not about saving money, it was about wasting and spending even more money while depriving the U.S. of one of its most effective national security assets.