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Kerry Praises BBG

Changes “couldn’t have come at a more important time”

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry this week cited tangible improvements made to U.S. international broadcasting media and was complimentary of the Broadcasting Board of Governor’s recent efforts.

“Today’s Broadcasting Board of Governors is not the BBG of a few years ago,” Secretary Kerry said. “Much-needed change has come to one of the U.S. government’s most critical agencies, and it couldn’t have come at a more important time,” Kerry said in a press release.

The BBG oversees all U.S. civilian international media, including the Voice of America, Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, Radio Free Asia, Radio and TV Martí and the Middle East Broadcasting Networks.

BBG board members met this week with Kerry, who serves as an “ex officio” member of the board, prior to the board’s April meeting in Washington.

During Wednesday’s board meeting BBG Board Chair Jeff Shell reflected on the time then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, testifying before the House Foreign Affairs Committee in early 2013, described the BBG as “practically defunct in terms of its capability to tell a message around the world.”

“We have lived under the yoke of Secretary Clinton’s remarks about the BBG being defunct. Unfortunately, at that time there was some accuracy to that comment,” Shell said. “We have worked very hard to have a functioning board, a great management team and a more refined mission.”

The U.S. House Foreign Affairs Committee has previously discussed reforms to BBG, including a new two-tier structure for U.S. international broadcasting.

BBG CEO John Lansing has been critical of any plan to create a two-board structure to lead U.S. international broadcasting. “It would needlessly create dueling CEOs and dueling boards,” he said.