Multimedia expansion of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty was the theme for a visit by the Broadcasting Board of Governors to Prague, Czech Republic, this week. The visit comes at a time of renewed focus on Russian information activities.
RFE/RL estimates that its audience reach grew 13 percent since the previous fiscal year, to 23.3 million people per week. BBG says the service “continues to expand its traditional media outlets while also creating new, innovative ways to distribute the news.”
U.S. leaders of late have pointed out an escalation of media activity from Russia, in what Secretary of State John Kerry has called a “vast propaganda machine.”
BBG itself has been a subject of frequent criticisms of its effectiveness and changing leadership. It oversees Voice of America, the Office of Cuba Broadcasting and BBG-funded grantees RFE/RL, Radio Free Asia and the Middle East Broadcasting Networks.
On this visit it heard reports on RFE/RL’s revamped digital strategy that includes content delivery advances for the broadcaster’s Russian Service. The service operates on four key platforms, including its website, Facebook page, Twitter and YouTube, according to RFE/RL officials. Efforts include new video production capabilities and an emphasis on the program“Current Time,” a TV news and information program produced with Voice of America that airs in the Russian periphery.
BBG governors at Wednesday’s meeting in Prague toured RFE/RL headquarters and met staff members. They commemorated the 65th anniversary of the RFE/RL.
Interim Manager Nenad Pejic was quoted in the announcement saying, “Our top priority was launching new Russian-language programming providing fair and balanced independent reporting on Russia and the region; we did this.” Pejic called it “a demanding and exciting year” at RFE/RL. This week, RFE/RL also marked its 20th year since moving operations to the Czech Republic in 1995 at the invitation of then-President Vaclav Havel.