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BBG Winds Up 2012

Year-end meeting looks at Russia and recognizes outstanding personnel

During its final meeting of the year, held Dec. 13, the Broadcasting Board of Governors launched an extensive review of its efforts in Russia, recognized BBG journalists and senior managers for extraordinary service and adopted new travel guidelines.

After a day-long meeting of its Strategy & Budget Committee that included a panel of human rights experts on Russia and Iran, the Board discussed next steps.

It commissioned a six-month review of the situation in Russia to be led by IBB Deputy Director Jeffrey Trimble. Board members also plan to travel to Russia in early 2013 to meet with officials and civilians and to explore distribution options for Voice of America and Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty programming.

The board adopted a resolution commending RFE/RL’s Khadija Ismailova, who spoke with governors via the Internet, from her home in Azerbaijan. Ismailova recently received a Courage in Journalism award from the International Women’s Media Foundation for her investigative work.

In other business, the board voted to reduce its number of full board meetings from monthly to bimonthly beginning in February next year, with the option to meet in between as needed.

They adopted a preliminary statement of principles and guidelines for travel by the governors and agency senior managers that will help set priorities and ensure clearly defined objectives for all travel apart from trips undertaken by BBG journalists in the course of their work.

In a resolution, the board honored Gov. Dana Perino, who is stepping down at year’s end, for her “important contribution to advancing the board’s goals for reforming the agency,” and her collegial, bipartisan approach to the agency’s work.

The board also honored two departing senior managers, Chief Financial Officer Maryjean Buhler, who moved to another federal government position, and John Lennon, associate director of Strategy and Planning at Voice of America, who is retiring after 44 years with the agency.

At the end of the meeting, Committee for U.S. International Broadcasting Executive Director Ann Noonan spoke, calling for the reinstatement of fired Radio Liberty journalists.

The BBG board permitted Noonan to make her statement at the end of the open session, at the request of Gov. Victor Ashe. “I’d also like to point out that the … decision to deemphasize news and news analysis and to replace it on the Radio Liberty Russian home page with soft feature stories has produced a more than 50% decline in site visitors in just two months,” she said.

Video of the meeting is available at the BBG website.

VOA’s John Lennon to Retire