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U.S. International Broadcasting “Defunct”—Congress Finally Steps In
Posted By Helle Dale On July 1, 2013 @ 10:00 am In International | Comments Disabled
Last Wednesday, the House Foreign Affairs Committee (HFAC) tackled an issue long overdue for congressional oversight —the state of affairs at the Broadcasting Board of Governors (BBG). The title of the HFAC hearing —“Broadcasting Board of Governors: An Agency ‘Defunct’”—came from none other than former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton . “The BBG is practically defunct in terms of its capacity to be able to tell a message around the world,” she stated during her January testimony during the Benghazi hearing. The HFAC under Chairman Ed Royce (R–CA) has taken up the challenge to reform the government’s sprawling complex of international broadcasters. In the words of Ed Royce,
It is time to take a hard look at the BBG and ask if our resources, nearly $750 million annually, are being spent wisely—are we getting what we need from these broadcasting efforts? We aren’t, and it is time for broad reforms; “tinkering” and “band-aid” solutions are not an option, because the stakes are too great.
Witnesses at the hearing were James K. Glassman, former BBG chairman and former Under Secretary of State for Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs; Enders Wimbush, former BBG governor; and Jeff Hirschberg, also a former BBG governor. All three obviously have firsthand experience, yet presented very different conclusions. Where all three did agree was that some parts of international broadcasting, such as Voice of America’s Persian News Network, are completely dysfunctional.
At a time of deep budgetary concerns, creating a new agency from scratch is hardly a job that Congress will want to tackle. A potential solution akin to the vision presented by James Glassman is to dismantle the BBG entirely and place Voice of America within the State Department, thus tying its mission closely to support of U.S. foreign policy. The surrogate broadcasters—Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, Radio Free Asia, Alhurra Television, Radio Sawa, and the Office of Cuba Broadcasting—whose journalistic mission is more closely allied to democracy-building, might find a home with the semi-independent National Endowment for Democracy.
Most encouragingly, Congress has finally shown a willingness to engage in oversight of this important, struggling tool of U.S. public diplomacy. Such congressional engagement is critically important for a more effective use of U.S. taxpayer dollars—and more effective broadcasting of news and American values to people around the world.
Article printed from The Foundry: Conservative Policy News Blog from The Heritage Foundation: http://blog.heritage.org
URL to article: http://blog.heritage.org/2013/07/01/u-s-international-broadcasting-defunct-congress-finally-steps-in/
URLs in this post:
 Image: http://blog.heritage.org/wp-content/uploads/spectrum-radio-tower.jpg
 oversight: http://www.heritage.org/research/reports/2011/11/congress-should-overhaul-bbg-management
 hearing: http://foreignaffairs.house.gov/hearing/hearing-broadcasting-board-governors-agency-%E2%80%9Cdefunct%E2%80%9D
 Hillary Clinton: http://www.usgbroadcasts.com/bbgwatch/2013/01/25/clinton-we-have-abdicated-the-international-broadcasting-arena-why/
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