Broadcasting Board of Governors
|Broadcasting Board of Governors|
Seal of the Broadcasting Board of Governors
Logo of the Broadcasting Board of Governors
|Formed||October 1, 1999|
|Preceding Agency||Office of Affiliate Relations and Media Training|
|Annual budget||$671.3 million (2008) including the International Broadcasting Bureau and the Broadcasting Board of Governors|
The Broadcasting Board of Governors (BBG) is an independent agency of the United States government responsible for all non-military, international broadcasting sponsored by the U.S government. It was previously a department within the United States Information Agency until 1999.
Starting in 1990, all U.S. government international broadcasting services began to work more closely together. That year the U.S. Information Agency, then VOA's parent agency, established the Bureau of Broadcasting to consolidate its three broadcasting services – the Voice of America, WORLDNET Television and Film Service, and Radio y Televisión Martí – under one umbrella organization, supported by a single Office of Engineering and Technical Operations.
In 1991, the Bureau created the Office of Affiliate Relations and Audience Analysis (later renamed the Office of Affiliate Relations and Media Training in 1996) to establish and maintain a network of "affiliated" radio and TV stations around the globe that would broadcast VOA- and WORLDNET-produced programs. Today, more than 1,200 radio and TV stations receive programming through the Office of Affiliate Relations.
U.S. government international broadcasting was consolidated even further when President Clinton signed the International Broadcasting Act (Public Law 103-236) on April 30, 1994. The legislation established the International Broadcasting Bureau (IBB) within the U.S. Information Agency (USIA), and created a Broadcasting Board of Governors (BBG) with oversight authority over all non-military U.S. government international broadcasting.
The Voice of America and Radio and TV Marti – the federally funded services of the former Bureau of Broadcasting – along with the Office of Engineering and Technical Services, comprise the IBB. WORLDNET TV was folded into VOA in 2004[dead link] and no longer exists independently.
The bipartisan BBG includes the Secretary of State (ex officio) and eight members appointed by the President and confirmed by the U.S. Senate. The first Broadcasting Board of Governors was sworn in on August 11, 1995.
The BBG became an independent, autonomous entity on October 1, 1999, as a result of the Foreign Affairs Reform and Restructuring Act of 1998 (Pub.L. 105–277). BBG had 3,200 employees and a budget of US$535 million in 2002.
The bi-partisan board consists of eight members nominated by the President of the United States and confirmed by the U.S. Senate. The ninth member ex officio is the Secretary of State. By law, no more than four members shall be from the same political party. The president designates one member (other than the Secretary of State) to serve as Chairman.
In November 2009, President Obama nominated to the board:
- Walter Isaacson, chairman (He served until January 2012.)
- Victor Ashe (Serving in June, 2013)
- Michael Lynton
- Susan McCue (Serving in June, 2013)
- Michael P. Meehan (Serving in June, 2013)
- Dennis Mulhaupt
- Dana Perino (July 2010 to December 2012)
- S. Enders Wimbush
Although a handful of Republican senators initially forestalled the appointments in order to draw attention to alleged lack of transparency and ineffectiveness of the organization, the Senate unanimously confirmed all eight of the nominees on June 30, 2010, including Isaacson as chair.
Past members of the board have included:
- Norman J. Pattiz May 2000 – March 2006. According to one commentator, "political patron [was then-]Senator Joseph Biden."
- Kenneth Y. Tomlinson August 2002–
- Robert M. Ledbetter, a Mississippi broadcaster nominated in 2003, according to one commentator "at the behest of Trent Lott"
Functions and supervised organizations
BBG supervises the following independent broadcasting organizations, which collectively broadcast in 65 languages in more than 125 markets around the world:
- Voice of America (VOA)
- Radio Sawa
- Radio Farda
- Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty (RFE/RL)
- Radio Free Asia (RFA)
- Radio Marti and TV Marti
The BBG solicits annual funding from Congress via a proposed budget summary which is also available on their website. The Board submits an annual budget submission in which they lay out specific initiatives. Initiatives in 2011 included improving the global satellite distribution capacity, creating Radio Free Asia video programming and improving distribution of Voice of America content. 
Announced in April 2011, the BBG will receive $10 million from Congress. During the federal funding dispute for the fiscal year 2011, President Obama sided with the BBG agreeing to language that the organization would “expand unrestricted access to information on the Internet.” This work includes anti-censorships campaigns in China and other repressive regimes. 
Their 2012 budget request was US$767 million.
The BBG's stated mission is to promote and sustain freedom and democracy by broadcasting accurate and objective news and information about the United States and the world to audiences overseas. They claim their long-term vision for the BBG is "a flexible, multi-media, research-driven U.S. International Broadcasting System, incorporating regional networks and single-country operations, that reaches mass audiences by programming the distinct content of the Voice of America and the surrogate services through state-of-the art formats and the distribution channels – AM, FM, audio and video satellite, shortwave, and the Internet – that our audiences use and we control." 
However, according to a series of reports beginning in 2004 and generated by the Government Accountability Office (GAO), the BBG has struggled to live up to its mission. For instance, GAO highlighted a structural issue of the BBG in a 2004 report claiming that "organizationally, the existence of five separate broadcast entities has led to overlapping language services, duplication of program content, redundant newsgathering and support services, and difficulties coordinating broadcast efforts." The report also added that "marketing challenges include outmoded program formats, poor signal delivery, and low audience awareness in many markets." 
In April 2010, Senator Tom Coburn held up the appointments of the Obama administration, with the aim of drawing attention to the organization's perceived ineffectiveness, stating in an interview: "The BBG is the most worthless organization in the federal government. It's full of people who know nothing about media or foreign policy." Senator Jim DeMint also attempted to use the nominations to force a hearing on the BBG, after frustrations with a perceived lack of congressional oversight over the organization. Coburn had written an open letter to then-Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell in August 2010 citing "longstanding concerns regarding transparency and effectiveness of our taxpayer funded international broadcasting agencies under the purview of the Broadcasting Board of Governors."
In early 2013, the AFGE 1812 Local web site carried a series of articles detailing management problems under the BBG. The series can be found at this link: http://laborweb.afge.org/sites/bbg/l1812/
- "Obama taps former Bush aide to key government post", AFP, Nov. 19, 2009. Retrieved March 14, 2010.
- Rogin, Josh (April 30, 2010). "Chaos at the Broadcasting Board of Governors". Foreign Policy. Retrieved April 27, 2011.
- "U.S. Broadcasting Board Governor Norman Pattiz to Address Nation's Talk Radio Hosts About Middle East Broadcasting; Pattiz To Receive NARTSH Freedom of Speech Award for 2002"[dead link] BBG Web page. Retrieved March 14, 2010.
- Pattiz profile Forbes. Retrieved March 14, 2010.
- "Bully Pulpit: Public broadcasting abroad" by Franklin Foer, The New Republic, August 15, 2005 12:00 am. Retrieved March 14, 2010.
- "Budget Summary".
- Bluey, Rob (4/11/2011). "Obama Circumvents State Department, supports plan to give BBG $10 million". The Washington Examiner. Retrieved May 15, 2011.
-  at The Broadcasting Board of Governors website.
- "About the Agency". Retrieved April 26, 2011.
- "U.S. International Broadcasting: Challenges Facing the Broadcasting Board of Governors". GAO. Retrieved April 26, 2011.
- About the Agency at The Broadcasting Board of Governors website.
- News at VOANews.com.
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