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CUSIB Looks at Sequestration

Makes suggestions where BBG can save money

The Committee for U.S. International Broadcasting, an international broadcasting advocacy group, does not argue that the Broadcasting Board of Governors is above the sequestration cuts that affect many Washington agencies. It has some suggestions as to what might be more prudent to cut.

CUSIB said, “We are concerned that if sequestration continues, the management may take this as an opportunity to target the most vulnerable groups of employees, including the VOA employees who are under contract and who now constitute over 30% of the VOA workforce. We urge senior staffers to look for other savings in BBG budgets.”

One suggestion is to cancel a $50 million audience research and polling contract with the Gallup Organization. CUSIB said, “We believe that the BBG can easily obtain more useful and more targeted audience research at a much lower cost,” in a release.

CUSIB also urges the BBG “to reassess the need for a high number of IBB [International Broadcasting Bureau] executive positions, consultants, and corporate contractors. They have failed in the last five years to deliver on their promises of building audiences using commercial models while downplaying the BBG’s pro-democracy and pro-human rights mission.”

The group focused heavily on IBB reform saying that the “current budget crisis is an opportunity to reevaluate the IBB’s role and turn it into a small, efficient service-oriented unit which would be more responsive to the BBG Board and to programmers. Such restructuring would provide savings and give programming entities more resources.”

It added, “The BBG should not accept at face value promises that consolidation and bureaucratic expansion would result in savings and improvements … The key to Voice of America’s and surrogate broadcasters’ success is their independence and having sufficient resources to do their jobs without bureaucratic interference. The IBB, which does not produce any programs, consumes the largest part of the BBG’s budget.”

“We urge Congress to start treating U.S. international broadcasting as a high-impact national security asset and to support it with resources that national security requires in these dangerous and uncertain times,” The group summarized, adding, “USIB is a low-cost/high-benefit alternative to defense spending, but it receives only a minuscule portion of U.S. national security funding.”