The Future of U.S. International Broadcasting: A Call for Debate on its Mission and Funding

By Alex Belida
With the 70th anniversary of the Voice of America approaching (Feb. 1st), it is an ideal time to assess the future prospects for U.S. International Broadcasting (USIB).

USIB has, over the past 70 years, grown into a multi-headed conglomerate.  Besides VOA, it now includes Radio Free Europe (founded 1950), Radio Liberty (founded 1953 and merged with RFE in 1976), Radio Marti (founded 1983) and TV Marti (founded 1990), Radio Free Asia (founded 1996) and the Middle East Broadcasting Network comprised of Radio Sawa (founded 2002) and Al-Hurra TV (founded 2004).

The current Broadcasting Board of Governors (BBG), headed by Walter Isaacson, this month approved resolutions (see record of decisions Jan. 13) aimed at consolidating these operations.  As a first step, the Board will study the feasibility of merging into a single corporate structure the three so-called Grantee or surrogate entities – Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, Radio Free Asia and the Middle East Broadcasting Network.  Secondly the Board will seek legislative approval to create a Chief Executive Officer to oversee day-to-day operations of these non-federal elements of USIB as well as the federal elements, the Voice of America and Radio-TV Marti.

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Event: The Role and Relevance of Multilateral Diplomacy in U.S. Foreign Policy

The American Foreign Service Association (“The Voice of the Foreign Service”) is convening a new series of events linked to the cover story on its monthly flagship publication, the Foreign Service Journal. The first event highlighting the December 2010 FSJ article on multilateral diplomacy will take place at 3p on 11 January at AFSA. A panel to discuss the topic “The Role and Relevance of Multilateral Diplomacy in US Foreign Policy” will include:

  • Dr. Esther Brimmer,  Assistant Secretary of State for International Organization Affairs.
  • Rep. Russ Carnahan (D-MO), Member of House Foreign Affairs and outgoing chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on International Organizations, Human Rights, and Oversight.
  • Brett Schaefer, Jay Kingham Fellow in International Regulatory Affairs at the Heritage Foundation’s Margaret Thatcher Center for Freedom.
  • Retired Foreign Service Officer and former Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for International Organization Affairs, Molly Williamson will moderate.

RSVPs are required, and should be sent to events@afsa.org by January 10.

AFSA is located at 2101 E St NW, Washington, DC 20006.