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Andy Lack Named First CEO of U.S. International Media

Journalist and media exec will take leadership role at organization that runs VOA, RFE/RL, Radio and TV Martí, Radio Free Asia and Middle East Broadcasting Networks

This story has been updated with additional details.

Media executive Andy Lack will be the first CEO of U.S. international media.

Hiring such a CEO has been an important goal of reform efforts, as we have reported; and legislation to replace the Broadcasting Board of Governors with a United States International Communications Agency, including a board and CEO, recently passed the House. BBG oversees Voice of America, Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, Radio and TV Martí and the Middle East Broadcasting Networks.

The BBG says it intends to hire Lack and it described him as a respected journalist and media executive. “He has successfully steered large organizations through changes in competitive media environments,” BBG Chair Jeff Shell said. The board started its search process in October.

The announcement quoted Richard Stengel, Under Secretary of State for Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs, calling Lack “the perfect person – and I really mean the perfect person – to be this organization’s first CEO in the 21st century.” The State Department has a seat on the BBG; and then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton had made headlines criticizing the organization’s ability to deliver its message.

RW reported yesterday that the website BBG Watch had written that the position would be offered. That site, which is unaffiliated with BBG, is run by former Voice of America official Ted Lipien, who also is a leader of the group Committee for U.S. International Broadcasting. In his post, Lipien wrote that Lack is “an executive with some of the most impressive journalistic and corporate media credentials. But Mr. Lack will have a very challenging job in dealing with the government bureaucracy and in finding ways of expanding impact and audience through mission-consistent high quality public service journalism.”

Lack has been chairman of the Bloomberg Media Group for the past year; he joined Bloomberg in 2008 as CEO of its Global Media Group. Earlier he was chairman and CEO of Sony Music Entertainment. He also is former president and chief operating officer of NBC, where he oversaw entertainment, news (including MSNBC and CNBC), NBC stations, sales and broadcast and network operations. BBG said he was responsible for expanding the Today show to three hours and creating its street-side studio in Rockefeller Center.

From 1993 to 2001, Lack was president of NBC News; he came there from CBS News, which he joined in 1976. He was a producer for 60 Minutes and subsequently, senior executive producer of CBS Reports.

How Effective Is the BBG in 2014? (June 2014)