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BBG Board Explores Social Media

Listens to experts at November meeting as it ponders engaging overseas audiences

The Broadcasting Board of Governors hosted outside experts over two days this month to explore opportunities and obstacles to engaging overseas audiences through social media.

The BBG is an independent federal agency, supervising U.S. government-supported, civilian international broadcasting; its broadcasting organizations include the Voice of America; Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty; the Middle East Broadcasting Networks, which oversees Alhurra TV and Radio Sawa; Radio Free Asia; and the Office of Cuba Broadcasting, which oversees Radio and TV Martí.

Four social media experts participated in the board’s discussions held in conjunction with the November BBG meeting.

They were Chris Hughes, founder of Jumo and co-founder of Facebook; Xiao Qiang, professor of journalism at the University of California at Berkeley and founder and editor-in-chief of the China Digital Times; Leila Janah, founder of Samasource, a nonprofit that connects people living in poverty to work using the Internet; and Hal Roberts, fellow at the Berkman Center for the Internet and Society at Harvard University.

For the first time, the board agreed to make public the agency’s new Language Service Review Briefing Book, which includes analyses of marketplace conditions and global audience research. The briefing book soon will be available online. Congress mandates the BBG conduct a review each year to evaluate the mission and operation of its broadcast entities and to make decisions about adding or subtracting language services.

BBG said its November meeting also included research presentations by Gallup and Intermedia on the global operating environment for international broadcasting as part of the board’s ongoing strategic review process. In addition, the director of the International Broadcasting Bureau, Richard Lobo, provided analysis of the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats to the IBB.

The BBG board meetings are webcast; the November meeting is here.

We Can’t Allow Ourselves to Be Outcommunicated by Our Enemies” (Oct. 2010)