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BBG Hears About Moves to Streamline Strategic Coordination

Newly-appointed CEO John Lansing addresses board in unusual move

In an unprecedented move the newly appointed CEO of the Broadcasting Board of Governors attended last week’s BBG Board meeting to discuss his strategic themes to improve the impact of U.S. international media around the world.

It was the first time a BBG CEO has ever attended a BBG Board meeting, according to BBG.

CEO John Lansing, who began his service at BBG in September, outlined five guiding strategic themes at the board meeting held at the Middle East Broadcasting Networks headquarters in Springfield, Va.

Among Lansing’s recommendations: aggressively pursue a shift to digital platforms, enhance the strategic cooperation across BBG network entities, enhance the curation and acquisition of content, target BBG resources to cover key spheres of influence like Russia and violent extremism, and ensure impact by measuring progress and success.

BBG, which has been criticized for its ineffectiveness at a time when global audiences have increased access to information from public and private sources, oversees Voice of America, Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, Radio and TV Martí, Radio Free Asia, and Middle East Broadcasting Networks.

Middle East Broadcasting Networks staff and leadership at last week’s meeting presented a “deep dive” of its latest efforts to expand listenership in the Middle East and specifically Iraq to counter the message of ISIL.

MBN President Brian Conniff was quoted in a BBG announcement saying, “Daesh [ISIL] is using the extreme conditions in Iraq to offer an appealing alternative to the current life many are living. MBN’s strategy has been to create the ‘Raise Your Voice’ campaign, a multimedia platform that will enable a broader Iraqi population to voice their opinions and provide a platform for moderate voices, disavow extremism, and discuss solutions to the problems Iraq is facing.”

Critics have lashed out at BBG for ending RFE/RL’s Radio Free Iraq service in July 2015. The BBG said at the time some of Radio Free Iraq’s resources would be merged with Radio Sawa. MBN manages and oversees Radio Sawa.