CUSIB will review BBG’s new strategic plan

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The Broadcasting Board of Governors (BBG) met on October 13 and announced a new mission statement for U.S. international broadcasting operations. It emphasizes engagement with the audiences targeted by the BBG-managed media entities. The BBG also announced a new strategic plan.

The BBG press release describes the plan as calling for the agency “to focus not only on generating outstanding content but also embracing content generated by audiences and creating an interactive environment in which they can converse” with BBG-managed media entities and each other. To reflect the dual focus, the Board adopted the following new mission statement: “To inform, engage and connect people around the world in support of freedom and democracy.”

The recently-formed independent Committee for U.S. International Broadcasting (CUSIB) will be reviewing the BBG strategic plan and asking its Advisory Board for opinions and recommendations, which will be made public.

The Committee for U.S. International Broadcasting has already expressed its concerns about the BBG’s plan to end Voice of America radio and television broadcasts to China. The plan has now been blocked by Congress. CUSIB supports multi-platform news delivery, especially to countries which restrict media freedom, including censoring of the Internet. The Committee for U.S. International Broadcasting is also concerned about reports of censorship by BBG officials of VOA news to Ethiopia, poor employee morale, inadequate journalistic training, and recent reporting which ignored horrendous violations of human rights in North Korea while giving extensive coverage of the North Korean regime’s propaganda claims.

The BBG press release is posted below in full.

BBG Announces New Strategic Plan

October 14, 2011 | Washington, D.C.

The Broadcasting Board of Governors (BBG), at its meeting on October 13, adopted a new five-year strategic plan designed to grow and reform U.S. international broadcasting.

The Board also highlighted recent incidents of harassment and jailing of BBG journalists in Egypt and Turkmenistan.

BBG’s 2012-2016 strategic plan aims to make BBG the world’s leading international news agency by 2016, focused on both mission and impact, and targeting a 50 million worldwide audience gain.  Titled “Impact through Innovation and Integration,” the plan calls for the establishment of a global news network and development of new delivery and anti-circumvention technologies. It also recommends streamlining management, evaluation of the possible consolidation of the three grantee networks into one organization, exploring possible de-federalization of the federal agency components, ending language duplication, modernizing distribution mechanisms to reflect the media audiences prefer, and repealing the ban on domestic dissemination of BBG programs contained in the 1947 Smith-Mundt Act.

The plan calls for the agency to focus not only on generating outstanding content but also embracing content generated by our audiences and creating an interactive environment in which they can converse with us and each other. To reflect the dual focus, the Board adopted the following new mission statement: “To inform, engage and connect people around the world in support of freedom and democracy.”

“This plan is a response to the ever-changing world we live in,” said BBG Chairman Walter Isaacson. “To retain and increase our audiences and impact, we have to be smart and capitalize on the opportunities of digital integration and audience engagement.”

At the meeting, MBN President Brian Conniff shared a video clip showing armed Egyptian military members entering Alhurra’s Cairo studio and interrupting live coverage of the violent clashes between Coptic elements and soldiers on October 9. RFE/RL President Steve Korn discussed the case of RFE/RL contributor Dovletmyrat Yazkuliyev, who was sentenced to five years in prison by the Turkmenistan government in what appears to be an attempt to silence his reporting. 

“Every day our people risk intimidation, violence, arrest and imprisonment to gather and report the news,” said BBG Chairman Walter Isaacson. “The threats to BBG journalists clearly demonstrate the challenges and risks we face as we continue to battle censorship and champion media freedom.” 

Governor Susan McCue highlighted the launch of the BBG’s volunteer Commission on Innovation last month in New York City. The Commission represents the BBG’s effort to tap the expertise of visionary leaders in digital media to help the Agency increase its impact among audiences abroad.

For further information about the BBG discussion, on demand links are available at www.bbg.gov.

The Broadcasting Board of Governors is an independent federal agency, supervising all U.S. government-supported, civilian international broadcasting, whose mission is inform, engage and connect people around the world in support of freedom and democracy. BBG broadcasts reach an audience of 165 million in 100 countries. BBG networks include the Voice of America, Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, the Middle East Broadcasting Networks (Alhurra TV and Radio Sawa), Radio Free Asia, and the Office of Cuba Broadcasting (Radio and TV Martí).

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