• BBG,  Guest Posts

    Whisper of America?

    "Under the Obama administration’s proposed FY 13 budget, the potential damage to the nation’s flagship publicly funded overseas network, the Voice of America, would be unprecedented if Congress approves it.  Contrast the reductions:  VOA faces net cuts totaling $17 million, compared with a reduction of $731,000 for its sister network, Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty."

  • Government Broadcasting

    BBG Chairman: customer-oriented, platform-neutral

    This week, Walter Isaacson, chairman of the Broadcasting Board of Governors, gave some remarks (PDF, 41kb) at the celebration of sixty years of Radio Free Europe. Walter, with his long history in the media business and the author of biographies of Benjamin Franklin and Einstein. Walter acknowledged the newly appointed Board’s launch of a year-long comprehensive review to remake the BBG into “a great virtual global news service” that would provide reliable reporting across mediums and with social media input from the global audience. This is similar to the trend of major media to incorporate readers and viewers into news development and dissemination. The goal, Walter said, is to become…

  • State Building

    The Men with Large Necks and Democracy

    Every Armenian, I’m told, knows about the unidentified individuals whose job is to scare away election observers and monitors during elections in Armenia. Referred to as the “men with large necks,” these individuals generally work as bodyguards for the local oligarchs or businessmen. After the January 10, 2010, parliamentary elections during which a well known opposition candidate was defeated by an unknown pro-government candidate, the US embassy in Yerevan had this say about the “men with large necks”: Embassy observers found numerous irregularities, including intimidation of voters, verbal and physical threats directed at journalists and observers, and in some cases the presence of uncredentialed, non-voting individuals sympathetic to the National…

  • Media

    Is Tehran intercepting RFE/RL communications?

    Radio Free Europe / Radio Liberty (RFE/RL) strongly believes the Government of Iran has tapped its phones, intercepting email, and surveilling its activities. RFE/RL, a US government broadcaster, cites recent attempts to recruit 8 Iranian journalists inside Iran. Six of the journalists were detained before they could exit the country while the other two had their passports confiscated. According to a senior official at RFE/RL, the Iranian government’s policy towards journalists is to “arrest some, execute some, release some.” Fortunately, those journalists RFE/RL was engaging are just in the first category. See also: The VOICE Act: Victims of Iranian Censorship

  • Interagency,  Now Media,  Public Diplomacy

    Broadcasting Board of Governors: empty seats at the public diplomacy table

    What many critics of the BBG may not know is that the Board has not had its full compliment of 8 members (plus ex officio member, the Secretary of State) since August 2004. With the departure of Ted Kaufman in December 2008 (to take Vice President Biden's Senate seat from Delaware), there are now only four sitting members, just enough for a quorum. The Board has been without a Chairman since Jim Glassman vacated it 10 June 2008 to become the Under Secretary for Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs.