Thursday, March 17, 2011

Time to Rethink the Broadcasting Board of Governors

Recent strategic decisions by the Broadcasting Board of Governors (BBG) on Voice of America (VOA) broadcasts to China suggest that the time has come for Congress to take a serious look at the way the U.S. government manages its international broadcasting services. Even Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, in her testimony to the House Foreign Affairs Committee on March 1, expressed strong concern over the state of U.S. international broadcasting.[1] Of course, Clinton herself has a seat (usually deputized to Undersecretary of State for Public Diplomacy Judith McHale) on the BBG, so she has the opportunity and responsibility to act on her concerns.

The fact is that, as currently constituted, the mostly unpaid, part-time BBG, which meets once a month and has no real CEO, is no way to run a complex media organization with over $750 million worth of broadcasting entities paid for by U.S. taxpayers. This is no reflection on the board members (four Democrats and four Republicans, in addition to the Secretary of State) who volunteer their time, work hard to serve their country, and do so for idealistic reasons. Yet, with other responsibilities and day jobs, board members are not able to devote the time or resources to U.S. international broadcasting that it deserves. Congress should look at changing this situation.
(Alokesh Gupta, India)

Additional story at The Heritage Foundation