author chairs the Strategy and Budget Committee of the Broadcasting
Board of Governors.
the globe today, only one out of six people lives in a country with
free media. According to Freedom House, this is the worst media
freedom rate in more than a decade.
why the work of U.S. international broadcasting journalists is more
critical than ever.
At the Broadcasting
Board of Governors, our clear and simple mission is to inform, engage
and connect people around the world in support of freedom and
democracy. As the demand is greater, our financial resources are
fewer. All across the federal government, agencies such as the
BBG are asked to do more with less. As technology platforms advance
and become more decentralized, our challenges grow exponentially.
when planning for the future, the BBG is unlike other agencies in
that it also needs to consider seismic changes in broadcasting,
journalism and technology, along with the larger strategic global
context for our broadcasters: Voice of America, Radio Free
Europe/Radio Liberty, Radio Free Asia, the Middle East Broadcasting
Networks and Radio and TV Martí.
a media standpoint, we don’t work in a vacuum. Publicly financed
broadcasters from other Western countries, such as the BBC and Radio
Netherlands, have faced deep cutbacks in funding, ending big chunks
of shortwave while building out mobile and Internet platforms.
anyone familiar with the U.S. news business will know, it’s a tough
economic situation for broadcast journalists everywhere.
president’s budget request for fiscal year 2014 (which you can see
at radioworld.com/links), submitted to Congress in April,
takes these realities into account. Since international broadcasting
remains an integral part of U.S. national security — part of “soft
power” — we work with other parts of our government in setting
the strategic priorities, and are solely responsible for maintaining
the journalistic independence of our broadcasters.
independent news and information is the catalyst for open democracy.
We must continue to reach target countries around the world where
media are not free.
example, in response to the rapidly rising extremism in North Africa,
we increased distribution and added two new broadcast languages in
Mali at the Voice of America. We have also had great success in
expanding distribution across Africa through new affiliate agreements
and FM transmitters on U.S. embassy compounds that can reach
listeners in populous capital cities. Working with the State
Department, we have plans in more than a dozen African cities.
young Pakistani girl is interviewed by a Mashaal Radio reporter about
her destroyed school in the Khyber tribal district of Pakistan.
tight budgets force us to prioritize the use of our resources. We
have had to take a very hard look at spending — seeking
efficiencies wherever possible and limiting the impact on our
must face trade-offs that are informed by our strategy, which
includes changing the way we do things in order to respond to world
events and to our audiences’ preferences.
importantly, we are seeing that our strategies are driving success;
for example, using a “Washington bureau” concept to cultivate new
audiences in Latin America (more than 23 million) that has driven our
global audiences up to a record 203 million people weekly.
varied delivery platforms are helping us reach more people in
important markets, including digital tools like SoundCloud, the
recently debuted Global News Dashboard, and expanded mobile-friendly
FY 2014, the BBG requested $731 million from Congress, including new
investments to counter violent extremism, engage new audiences in
Burma and make critical infrastructure improvements. This is $18
million more than the current budget, which includes sequestration
BBG is the only federal agency managed by a part-time committee. The
president’s budget request also includes a legislative proposal to
establish a chief executive officer, a key strategic objective that
the BBG board adopted in 2012.
enacted, the proposal will improve the management and efficiency of
BBG operations, helping to mitigate the challenges of a part-time
board. The CEO will provide day-to-day executive leadership for U.S.
international broadcasting, and will have management authority over
the federal and non-federal elements.
is streamlining syndication strategies to deliver content via Google
Currents, YouTube, SoundCloud and iTunes.
shifts include scaling back selected language services to reduce
overlap, increasing cooperation and ensuring that broadcasters will
provide complementary content, streamlining and restructuring central
news operations, realizing savings in information technology, and
making significant administrative and support reductions.
FY 2014 budget request also includes program, transmission and
staffing reductions across all the BBG broadcasters and the
International Broadcasting Bureau, in part through efforts to
continue to restructure operations and end duplication.
VOA Greek and RFE/RL Balkan services would be closed under this
proposed budget, and AeroMartí broadcasts of TV Martí would be
of these changes, if enacted by Congress, will be very difficult on
the professional men and women involved. The BBG will do
everything possible to minimize the impact on our employees through
agency buyouts, early-out authority and reducing positions via
be competitive in today’s complex media markets, we must innovate
as never before. To have the resources and management structures to
enable such innovation, the agency must continue to integrate its
operations. Our people leading in innovation and integration are
at the heart of the BBG’s strategic plan and the budget process,
year after year.
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