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New Details Available in BBG Budget Proposal

Notes reform bill passed by House Committee in April

In a detailed look at its budget request for the next fiscal year, the Broadcasting Board of Governors says it will become more nimble and streamlined under its $721.26 million request for FY2015.

That compares to last year, when the international media provider’s 2013 budget totaled $713.3 million with the biggest portion, some $196.4 million, going to Voice of America.

The BBG is an independent federal agency that oversees U.S. international broadcasting networks. Its broadcasters include the Voice of America and the Office of Cuba Broadcasting; and three nonprofit grantees: Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, the Middle East Broadcast Networks and Radio Free Asia. It employs 2,748 across the five networks.

The entity has detailed its achievements in its annual report to President Obama and Congress.

The BBG estimates its programming reached an estimated 206 million people per week in 2013, a net increase of 31 million from the previous year’s total. It estimates its largest listenership in unduplicated audience is in Indonesia at 21.6 million weekly listeners.

The annual report also mentions the amendment of the Smith-Mundt Act in 2013 to allow program material produced by BBG networks to be distributed within the United States. The amendment does not allow for the BBG to create programming for audiences in the U.S.

Critics of the BBG question the success of its mission to inform, engage and connect people around the world in support of freedom and democracy. They want to fix perceived management problems and clarify the mission of VOA.

Last month, the House Foreign Affairs Committee passed a bill introduced by Rep. Edward Royce (R-Calif.) proposing to reform the bipartisan board. The objective of H.R. 4490, “United States International Communications Reform Act of 2014,” is to improve efficiency, effectiveness and flexibility of United States international broadcasting and calls for creating the United States International Communications Agency.