Party Line vs. Congressional Hearings
“What all of this discussion points to every so clearly is the need for overseeing congressional committees to hold comprehensive hearings on the future of U.S. international broadcasting, and do it BEFORE any legislation is able to move through Congress that would simply rubber stamp the BBG’s flim flam strategic plan.” – A comment from an anonymous VOA journalist on an article in MountainRunner.us by Dr. Kim Andrew Elliott. Dr. Elliott is perhaps the only Broadcasting Board of Governors employee writing openly under his own name in outside sources about the BBG.
Kim Andrew Elliott, who is employed by the Broadcasting Board of Governors but has his own private blog devoted to U.S. international broadcasting, wrote in MountainRunner.us that independence and consolidation are necessary for the success of BBG’s news and information enterprise. US International Broadcasting: Success Requires Independence and Consolidation
Kim Andrew Elliott wrote:
First, US international broadcasting must be under a bipartisan or nonpartisan board that shields it from direct US Government control and interference. There is no substitute for this. The world’s great public broadcasting corporations, including the BBC, Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, and the Australian Broadcasting Corporation, are seen as independent and credible news providers because they are managed by boards and not by the governments of their countries.
Kim Andrew Elliott also argues:
The second pillar of the reform of US international broadcasting is consolidation. True consolidation.
The BBG has announced a plan for the restructuring of front office management, but one that will preserve the “many brands and many divisions” of USIB. USIB has several entities and, increasingly, entities within entities. With multiple brands, there will be opportunities to preserve the duplication of effort, and the splitting of scarce resources, that keep USIB from realizing its potential. The BBG has announced a goal to become the “world’s leading news agency” by 2016. This is a lofty ambition, but USIB cannot compete with other world news agencies until it quits competing within itself.
Two readers have commented so far on Elliott’s article.
B. Brashaw says:
In the present and mid-term federal budget environment and with the myriad news and information sources available on all media platforms, there is neither a public diplomacy nor public policy argument for a recast and independent USBBG. None. That is at best a pipe-dream and at worst a conceit of the agency’s frustrated upper management. If the BBG and its varied broadcast services don’t serve the national interest, the BBG experiment should be abandoned and the agency shut down. The country can’t afford it, and given the news product provided, the public wouldn’t watch, listen ot link to it. And given the cuts called for in both the President’s budget and the BBG master plan, the news product is likely only to get worse. Harsh, yes, but true.
February 14, 2012 at 3:18 pm
Brashaw makes an excellent point, as are others at the BBG Watch site, where the voices of many frustrated and angry employees have an outlet because threats of retaliation prevent them from voicing opinions directly to the managers who are targeting employees.
As for the commentary by Elliott, who has historically made excellent points about duplication that the BBG itself encouraged over the decades, and the importance of VOA continuing to report the news rather than be turned into the propaganda agency some have always advocated it be, one wonders why he alone among currently-employed individuals in the agency in able to make on-the-record comments without fear of reprisal.
What all of this discussion points to every so clearly is the need for overseeing congressional committees to hold comprehensive hearings on the future of U.S. international broadcasting, and do it BEFORE any legislation is able to move through Congress that would simply rubber stamp the BBG’s flim flam strategic plan.
Read Kim Andrew Elliott’s article in MountainRunner.us and all comments:
US International Broadcasting: Success Requires Independence and Consolidation