The House Foreign Affairs Committee this week unanimously passed legislation to overhaul U.S. international broadcasting efforts. H. R. 4490 reforms the missions and objectives of the Voice of America, Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, Radio Free Asia and the Middle East Broadcast Networks.
Bill sponsors House Foreign Affairs Committee Chair California Republican Rep. Ed Royce and Ranking Member New York Democrat Rep. Eliot Engel recently visited the Ukraine and believe the recent actions there underscores the need for the changes in the “United States International Communications Reform Act of 2014.”
“The Russian propaganda machine is now in overdrive in its attempts to undermine regional stability in Ukraine,” said Royce. “U.S. broadcasters are operating with a hand tied behind their back. That’s because the bureaucratic structure over the top of these radios — the Broadcasting Board of Governors — is broken.”
The BBG is the nine-member bipartisan board that sets funding and gives direction to its various international broadcast organizations.
The new legislation makes clear that VOA’s mission is to support U.S. diplomacy efforts, according to the committee. The measure also seeks to eliminate duplicative programming efforts and consolidates Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, Radio Free Asia and the Middle East Broadcast Networks into the so-called Freedom News Network. The BBG also oversees Radio and TV/Marti, which would continue to exist, but become part of VOA if the measure passes.
The next step is “consideration of the measure by the House of Representatives,” according to a committee spokeswoman.