FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
October 12, 2012
CUSIB Applauds Former BBG Member Blanquita Cullum’s Statement on Radio Liberty Crisis
The Committee for U.S. International Broadcasting (CUSIB) is honored to learn that former Broadcasting Board of Governors (BBG) member Blanquita Cullum has joined efforts to save Radio Liberty (Radio Svoboda) in Russia.
Blanquita Cullum’s statement of October 12, 2012 describes the decisions of the Broadcasting Board of Governors, International Broadcasting Bureau (IBB), and Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty (RFE/RL) executives as “dangerous, short-sighted and shameful.” Referring to officials in charge of U.S. international broadcasting, Ms. Cullum asked:
“Whose side are they on? Whose interests are they serving? Not the interests of Democracy or America, but instead are catering to Russian President Vladimir Putin who comes out as the winner in this fight.”
The management of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty orchestrated a two-day purge of about 40 Radio Liberty journalists, broadcasters, web editors, video editors and technical staffers. Specially hired guards were used to provide the necessary degree of coercion. After being deceived into believing that employees would finally be getting medical insurance, moving to a new facility, and receive new training, Radio Liberty journalists saw RFE/RL’s American officials use their security guards to block the entrance to the building and instead announce the employees’ terminations. The management of the U.S. taxpayer-funded broadcasting station then prevented longtime Radio Liberty radio hosts and website editors from airing and posting their human rights programs and did not even allow them to say good bye to their radio listeners and website visitors. Some Radio Liberty journalists who were not fired resigned in protest.
Prominent Russian human rights activists like Lyudmila Alexeeva and political leaders like Mikhail Gorbachev have condemned the mass dismissal of Radio Liberty journalists and the cancellation of their political and human rights radio and online programs.
Full Statement of Blanquita Cullum, former Broadcasting Board of Governors Member
“Dangerous, short-sighted and shameful. That is how I would characterize the recent morale-killing move by Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty’s firing of many veteran journalists. What kind of an impact do senior IBB staff want to have in that part of the world when they purposefully and arrogantly destroy the capability to provide an independent and free voice to the Russian people whose own domestic media is marginalized? Whose side are they on? Whose interests are they serving? Not the interests of Democracy or America, but instead are catering to Russian President Vladimir Putin who comes out as the winner in this fight.”
Ms. Cullum has also published an op-ed in The Washington Times: Stifling Free Speech Abroad.
Blanquita Walsh Cullum was named to the Broadcasting Board of Governors in 2002 by President George W. Bush and served until 2010. She came to the board as a radio broadcaster whose nationally syndicated programs BQ View and Newsbeat were carried coast-to-coast by the Radio America Network. She was the founder of the Young American Broadcasters Program, a nonprofit organization dedicated to cultivating the next generation of print and broadcast journalists. Ms. Cullum began her broadcasting career in San Antonio, Texas, where she worked for KENS-TV, KITE-Radio, KTSA-Radio and KSJL-Radio. Ms. Cullum has appeared on network and talk shows for ABC, CBS, CNN, FOX, MSNBC, C-Span, BBC, and Canadian Broadcasting Corporation.
For further information, please contact:
Ann Noonan, co-founder and Executive Director
Ted Lipien, co-founder
The Committee for U.S. International Broadcasting (CUSIB) is a nonpartisan, nongovernmental organization working to strengthen free flow of uncensored news from the United States to countries with restricted and developing media environments. www.cusib.org