Obama Will Nominate New BBG Chairman

State Department official is former Time magazine journalist
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President Obama will nominate Richard Stengel, currently of the State Department, as the next chairman of the Broadcasting Board of Governors.

Stengel is undersecretary of state for public diplomacy and public affairs. He’s a former managing editor of Time magazine who also has taught journalism at Princeton and collaborated with Nelson Mandela on the latter’s autobiography.

Stengel would succeed Jeff Shell, the chairman of Universal Filmed Entertainment, who has been in the position for about three years. Among those who have held the post in the past are David Burke, James Glassman, Marc Nathanson and Walter Isaacson.

The BBG is the federal agency that oversees U.S. civilian international media. Its networks are Voice of America, Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, Radio Free Asia, Office of Cuba Broadcasting and Middle East Broadcasting Networks. Its board has nine members who picked from the fields of mass communications, broadcast media or international affairs. Eight are appointed by the president and confirmed by the Senate; the ninth, the secretary of state, serves ex officio.

BBG in recent years has been a frequent target of reform-minded critics and is often cited as having low employee morale. Shell made headlines of a different sort this summer when he was denied entry to Russia and briefly detained in an episode with echoes of the Cold War.

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