Wednesday, November 21, 2018

Record audience growth for independent reporting aided by demand in China, Iran and Russia

WASHINGTON, D.C. - The United States Agency for Global Media (USAGM) released annual impact numbers indicating its programming is reaching larger audiences than ever despite increasingly challenging media environments. The measured weekly audience grew to 345 million people in FY 2018, from 278 million people in FY 2017, an unprecedented increase of 67 million.

"This year's audience numbers showing record demand for USAGM programming confirm a central tenet of our work," said CEO John F. Lansing. "People around the world want access to truth and will seek it even in the most repressed corners of the world."

The growth occurred in key strategic countries - China, where USAGM networks now have a weekly audience of 65 million; Iran, with a weekly audience of 14 million; and Russia, where the weekly audience is almost 8 million.

USAGM measures impact by weekly audience size along with other quantitative, qualitative, digital, and anecdotal data on a wide range of factors, including program quality and credibility, engagement with the news process, and audience understanding of current events.
Key FY 2018 accomplishments include:

Radio Free Asia's Uyghur Service, the world's only Uyghur-language news service outside of China, broke shocking stories of the nearly one million Uyghurs being detained in re-education camps in the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region of China since mid-2017. The Uyghur Service's reports are continuously cited by major media, the U.S. Department of State, and academics around the world, and have made the Uyghur situation one of today's most concerning human rights issues.     
Middle East Broadcasting Networks (MBN) is implementing a multi-year transformation plan designed to fundamentally improve programming content and production quality across all MBN media. In addition, MBN launched new television programs, bringing moderate voices to the crowded Arabic-language media marketplace.

Voice of America (VOA) and Radio Free Europe /Radio Liberty (RFE/RL) broadcasts attracted nearly a quarter of Iranian adults (23 percent) each week, despite the government bans on satellite dishes and online access to international media. Both networks saw a major spike  as mass protests broke out in Iran in December 2017 and January 2018, during which time Iranians were using circumvention technology to obtain VOA and RFE/RL content.

In the two years since the launch of Current Time, the 24/7 Russian-language digital network led by RFE/RL in cooperation with VOA, has gained traction online and through a wide network of distributors - more than 84 in 19 countries. New research from Russia shows an increased audience for USAGM content, up 28 percent since the last survey, despite its restricted access to standard broadcast channels. 

VOA's Africa Division launched "Our Voices," a new English-language television program hosted by pan-African women journalists, which aims to create a community of empowerment where women talk about serious matters in their lives, on the African continent and around the world, including politics, business, and migration.

Office of Cuba Broadcasting placed a network of correspondents throughout the world, reporting news about Cuba and connecting with independent reporters on the island. In addition, news programs have been expanded to better serve the Cuban audience.
Read the complete Audience and Impact report, at:
(USAGM/21 Nov 2018)