February 7, 2013
CUSIB Statement on Recent BBG Developments
The Committee for U.S. International Broadcasting (CUSIB – cusib.org) has released the following statement in response to recent developments at the Broadcasting Board of Governors (BBG).
The Committee for U.S. International Broadcasting extends our best wishes to Secretary of State John Kerry who has become the newest Member of the BBG. We trust that Secretary Kerry will remain mindful of the following concerns raised by outgoing Secretary of State Hillary Clinton at the Council on Foreign Relations, January 31, 2013, when she stated:
“We have basically abdicated in my view, the broadcast media. I have tried and will continue from the outside to convince Congress and the others. If we don’t have an up-to-date, modern, effective Broadcasting Board of Governors, we shouldn’t have one at all.”
CUSIB is hopeful that Secretary Kerry’s insight as a former Member of the U.S. Senate will help to reduce the central BBG bureaucracy that has grown beyond all measure at the expense of programming, reform the bureaucracy’s nerve center, the International Broadcasting Bureau (IBB), and provide the more agile, unbureaucratic BBG with new executive leadership and sufficient funding for its important media freedom mission.
We have warned repeatedly that a bigger central bureaucracy envisioned in the controversial strategic plan does not make a better and more efficient media organization. CUSIB is absolutely convinced that smaller and autonomous news and information/broadcasting units focused on their assigned regions and run by specialists can do a much better job of communicating with the world using traditional and new technologies, and at a much lower cost to American taxpayers, than a consolidated central media behemoth run by bureaucrats. Targeted programs and specialization are key ingredients of success in international broadcasting. They are not found in large bureaucracies.
We are also looking to Secretary Kerry’s leadership in returning to Radio Liberty experienced journalists who had been dismissed by the previous management of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty. Many, including this year’s Nobel Peace Prize nominee Lyudmila Alekseyeva, have called for their reinstatement. She and others have also called for RFE/RL’s return to what the new Acting President and CEO Kevin Klose calls “fact-based, quality, reliable, independent, verifiable journalism.”
CUSIB hopes that Kevin Klose and the BBG will settle overseas lawsuits brought against Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty by its discriminated foreign employees in Prague, an Armenian citizen Anna Karapetian, who is the mother of three minor children, and a Croatian national, Snjezana Pelivan. Their lawsuits in the Czech Supreme Court and the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg, respectively, are a result of using communist era laws to discriminate against foreign employees and deprive them of basic Czech labor law protections. These practices have been widely condemned by human rights leaders in the Czech Republic and in countries to which RFE/RL directs its programs.
In response to the January 2013 Report released by the Government Accountability Office (GAO), CUSIB remains determined to defend surrogate broadcasters and the Voice of America (VOA) at the same time. Both were clearly designed by Congress for very good reasons.
Surrogate broadcasters have a special role to play as an alternative to suppressed internal media and they can’t do the job of the Voice of America. By the same token, Congress created surrogate broadcasters because VOA cannot do their job. The Congress is right.
The GAO report does not authorize the International Broadcasting Bureau, an entity within the BBG, or the BBG, to change the Congressional intent to have both VOA and surrogate broadcasters. The GAO report simply says to keep an eye on uncensored news services to some countries, which in the opinion of Congress and in our view still need them both.
CUSIB remains ardently opposed to the Office of Inspector General (OIG) January 2013 Report attacking the authority of the BBG and the tremendous efforts of BBG Governor Ambassador Victor Ashe who has made the agency relevant by insisting upon its adherence to its mission and good management. CUSIB supports the BBG employee union’s strong defense of Ambassador Ashe’s campaign to improve working conditions, employee morale and managerial accountability. We support the request by AFGE Local 1812 for a Congressional investigation to be conducted “to determine who was involved in this misuse of the Office of Inspector General and to prevent this from ever happening again.”
CUSIB congratulates BBG Governors Victor Ashe, Susan McCue, Michael Lynton, Michael Meehan and Dennis Mulhaupt, as well as Under Secretary Tara Sonenshine, for their recent efforts for better management and greater transparency, and we extend our best wishes to Kevin Klose as he serves as Acting President and CEO at Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty.
For further information, please contact:
Ann Noonan, co-founder and Executive Director
Ted Lipien, co-founder and Director
You may also email us at: email@example.com.
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.