Monday, June 06, 2016

Masters of bad timing: BBG to eliminate Radio Liberty’s shortwave broadcasts in Russian

Masters of Bad Timing
by Ted Lipien

The Broadcasting Board of Governors (BBG), the U.S. federal agency in charge of media outreach abroad, is planning to eliminate all shortwave radio broadcasts in Russian by U.S. taxpayer-funded Radio Free Europe / Radio Liberty (RFE/RL) as of June 26, 2016. Radio programming in Russian by Radio Liberty’s Russian Service will, however, continue 24/7 online on the RFE/RL website. Radio Liberty’s Russian audio will also be available 24/7 on two satellites, Hot Bird and AsiaSat, according to the RFE/RL’s Russian-language announcement. Radio Liberty Russian Service will also continue to use 1386 kHz medium wave radio frequency from midnight to 6 AM and from 9 PM to to 10 PM Moscow time. This frequency can only be heard in some parts of European Russia. The BBG’s other entity, the Voice of America (VOA), has not been using shortwave radio transmissions to Russia since 2008.They were eliminated by the BBG a few weeks before the August 2008 Russian invasion of Georgia. Talk about bad timing.

I have always said that we don’t need the CIA. Reliable predictions as to where the next international crisis will happen can be made by looking at program cutting decisions by the Broadcasting Board of Governors. If you look at BBG’s past decisions to cut programming — not just shortwave radio but also entire services and/or satellite television transmissions — they included broadcasts to Russia, China, Tibet, Georgia, and Ukraine. The BBG bureaucracy usually made these decisions a few weeks or months before a major crisis erupted in these countries. They have missed hints of internal repression or external aggression with remarkable consistency. It happens because the BBG has no executives with strong foreign policy and international affairs backgrounds as the Voice of America and Radio Free Europe and Radio Liberty did during the Cold War. The BBG has been an absolute disaster, a “practically defunct” agency, to use former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s description of the BBG. When she made her comment to Congress in 2013 she herself was an ex officio member of the BBG board.

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