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BBG Seeks $721 Million for FY 2015 Budget

Request tied to shifting global priorities, transmission platforms

The Broadcasting Board of Governors is asking for $721.26 million for its fiscal 2015 budget, which would be a slight reduction from its enacted budget of $733.48 million in 2014. The budget includes what BBG describes as “significant reductions in staff positions that are predominantly not tied to content production, as well as costs involving less-effective signal transmissions.

The BBG is an independent federal entity responsible for U.S. nonmilitary international broadcasting programs like the Voice of America, Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, Radio Free Asia, Radio and TV Marti, and the Middle East Broadcasting Networks — Radio Sawa and Alhurra Television.

The FY 2015 request provides $4.8 million in broadcasting capital improvements funding to maintain the BBG’s transmission network, including the security requirements of facilities, maintenance, repairs and improvements to existing systems.

Overall, the BBG’s budget request includes what the broadcaster considers to be substantial reductions and also investments that rebalance the agency’s resources away from legacy markets in Europe and toward current foreign policy priorities such as Africa, Asia and the Middle East. The BBG is rejiggering its platform resources as well, continuing to move funding from legacy platforms such as shortwave and medium-wave in order to devote more money to platforms such as FM, television, streaming and social media in markets where the audience prefers the latter.

Overall, the BBG says it is tackling inefficiencies in its operations and focusing more on core activities. To that end, the BBG intends to reduce language service duplication in some markets, increasing efficiency and boosting impact, by ensuring coordinated complementary operations and content where two BBG broadcasters co-exist.

To afford some of the proposed investments and its transition to digital technology, the BBG proposes targeted reductions to administrative costs and to scale back less effective transmissions. The BBG plans to release its detailed budget request in late March.