Monday, October 17, 2011

BBG plans for reforming US international broadcasting

The Broadcasting Board of Governors (BBG), at its meeting on October 13, adopted a new five-year strategic plan designed to grow and reform US 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 programmes 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.
(Source: Broadcasting Board of Governors)