News / USA

US Lawmakers Mull International Broadcasting Changes

House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Rep. Ed Royce, R-Calif., listens to the testimony of U.S. Agency for International Development Administrator Rajiv Shah, on Capitol Hill in Washington, April 9, 2014.
House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Rep. Ed Royce, R-Calif., listens to the testimony of U.S. Agency for International Development Administrator Rajiv Shah, on Capitol Hill in Washington, April 9, 2014.
VOA News
A group of U.S. lawmakers is seeking to overhaul the country's international news and programming broadcasts, saying they should be consistent with and supportive of the country's foreign policy objectives.

House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Ed Royce, a California Republican, said the body that oversees U.S. foreign broadcasting operations, the Broadcasting Board of Governors, is "badly broken" and should be replaced.

Voice of America is overseen by the BBG. If the new legislation passes, it would be governed by a new supervisory body, to be called the U.S. International Communications Agency.

Royce said Wednesday the reorganization is necessary to bolster U.S. broadcasting in the face of growing competition from Russian, Chinese and other foreign international broadcasters.

"Unlike decades past, today's media landscape is highly competitive. Other countries are sprinting forward," Royce said. "We're still standing still."

Eliot Engel, a co-sponsor and the leading Democratic Party member on the committee, stressed the importance that the broadcasting agencies retain their reputation for accurate, unbiased reporting.

“Lastly, and perhaps most importantly, this bill maintains the requirement that U.S.-funded programming serve as objective sources of news and information, and not simply as a mouthpiece for U.S. foreign policy," he said. "It’s absolutely critical that the news be accurate and seen as credible by the foreign audiences we’re trying to reach."

VOA Director David Ensor said the organization does not comment on pending legislation. "VOA continues to carry out its important mission providing reliable, accurate and comprehensive news. It currently reaches an estimated 164 million people around the world each week."

Royce and the Democratic and Republican lawmakers co-sponsoring the legislation are seeking to consolidate some half-dozen U.S. international broadcasting agencies into just two. Their legislation says VOA should focus on coverage of the United States and international developments that affect the U.S.

The bill said VOA should air newscasts that promote and are consistent with "the broad foreign policies of the United States."

Currently, VOA operates under a 1976 charter that requires that it serve as a "consistently reliable and authoritative source of news" that is "accurate, objective and comprehensive." The charter also requires that VOA present a balanced and comprehensive projection of significant American thought and institutions.

The measure also says U.S.-funded broadcasting overseas should not duplicate the activities of American commercial broadcasters.

The legislation calls for the existing BBG governors to complete their terms as governors of the new International Communications Agency. However, a new chief executive would be appointed to oversee the agency's day-to-day operations.  

The three U.S. broadcasting arms that target specific regions of the world -- Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, Radio Free Asia and the Middle East Broadcasting Network -- would be merged into a new "Freedom News Network." The network would focus on providing uncensored local and regional news and analysis to countries where free media do not exist.

The bill would leave VOA as "the flagship brand" of the new agency, offering "accurate, objective and comprehensive" news of the United States, its policies, its people and international developments of interest to the U.S. The Office of Cuba Broadcasting, which operates Radio and TV Marti, would continue its current activities "within" VOA.

The Foreign Affairs Committee started consideration of the reforms Wednesday, but the overall fate of the legislation is uncertain. Even if it is passed in the House of Representatives, it would have to be approved by the Senate and signed by President Barack Obama.

Over the years, numerous U.S. officials have sought to reorganize the government's international broadcasting operations, often debating whether the United States should provide an independent source of news to countries without a free press or be more an arm of U.S. diplomatic efforts.

One critic was former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, who is considering whether to seek the Democratic nomination for president in 2016. Before she left office in early 2013, she described the Broadcasting Board of Governors as "practically defunct in terms of its capacity to tell a message around the world."

You May Like

DRC Tries Mega-Farms to Feed Population

Park at Boukanga Lonzo currently has 5,000 hectares under cultivation, crops stretching as far as eye can see, and is start of ambitious large-scale agriculture plan More

Video Survivor Video Testimonies Recount Horrors of Guatemalan Genocide

During a conflict that spanned more than three decades, tens of thousands of indigenous Mayans were killed More

Video War, Drought Threaten Iraq's Marshlands

Areas are spawning ground for Gulf fisheries, a resting place for migrating wildfowl, source of livelihood for fishermen and herders who have called the marshes home for generations More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: Aussie
April 30, 2014 11:53 PM
"It’s absolutely critical that the news be accurate and seen as credible by the foreign audiences we’re trying to reach."

This is a given, if the US starts using VoA , RFA & the others news services as a political mouth piece to push an agenda, people (including me) will simply stop coming to & reading these sites. It will also be a sad indictment of the USA’s stance on press freedom.
In Response

by: quslera
May 11, 2014 10:30 AM
The fact that this story, on VOA's own web site no less, received ONE comment, is quite revealing. Compare that to numerous comments on this subject on other web sites, and you have identified part of the problem, which is that VOA is no longer the "go to" destination it was for audiences looking for news.

As for the question of VOA becoming a mouthpiece for the government -- it always WAS a mouthpiece of the government. The "VOA Editorials" that are heard at the end of programming segments do just that -- reflect the views of the USG. You don't hear anything like that on the BBC.

If anyone thinks that separating these "editorials" from regular programming sufficiently distinguishes this material from straight news programming, they shoudl think again.

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Nobel Prize Winner Malala Talks to VOAi
X
August 31, 2015 2:17 AM
Nobel Peace Prize winner Malala Yousafzai met with VOA's Deewa service in Washington Sunday to talk about women’s rights and unveil a trailer for her new documentary. VOA's Katherine Gypson has more.
Video

Video Nobel Prize Winner Malala Talks to VOA

Nobel Peace Prize winner Malala Yousafzai met with VOA's Deewa service in Washington Sunday to talk about women’s rights and unveil a trailer for her new documentary. VOA's Katherine Gypson has more.
Video

Video War, Drought Threaten Iraq's Marshlands

Iraq's southern wetlands are in crisis. These areas are the spawning ground for Gulf fisheries, a resting place for migrating wildfowl, and source of livelihood for fishermen and herders. Faith Lapidus has more.
Video

Video Colombians Flee Venezuela as Border Crisis Escalates

Hundreds of Colombians have fled Venezuela since last week, amid an escalating border crisis between the two countries. Last week, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro ordered the closure of a key border crossing after smugglers injured three Venezuelan soldiers and a civilian. The president also ordered the deportation of Colombians who are in Venezuela illegally. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Rebuilding New Orleans' Music Scene

Ten years after Hurricane Katrina inundated New Orleans, threatening to wash away its vibrant musical heritage along with its neighborhoods, the beat goes on. As Bronwyn Benito and Faith Lapidus report, a Musicians' Village is preserving the city's unique sound.
Video

Video In Russia, Auto Industry in Tailspin

Industry insiders say country relies too heavily on imports as inflation cuts too many consumers out of the market. Daniel Schearf has more from Moscow.
Video

Video Scientist Calls Use of Fetal Tissue in Medical Research Essential

An anti-abortion group responsible for secret recordings of workers at a women's health care organization claims the workers shown are offering baby parts for sale, a charge the organization strongly denies. While the selling of fetal tissue is against the law in the United States, abortion and the use of donated fetal tissue for medical research are both legal. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.
Video

Video Next to Iran, Climate at Forefront of Obama Agenda

President Barack Obama this week announced new initiatives aimed at making it easier for Americans to access renewable energy sources such as solar and wind. Obama is not slowing down when it comes to pushing through climate change measures, an issue he says is the greatest threat to the country’s national security. VOA correspondent Aru Pande has more from the White House.
Video

Video Arctic Draws International Competition for Oil

A new geopolitical “Great Game” is underway in earth’s northernmost region, the Arctic, where Russia has claimed a large area for resource development and President Barack Obama recently approved Shell Oil Company’s test-drilling project in an area under U.S. control. Greg Flakus reports.
Video

Video Philippine Maritime Police: Chinese Fishermen a Threat to Country’s Security

China and the Philippines both claim maritime rights in the South China Sea.  That includes the right to fish in those waters. Jason Strother reports on how the Philippines is catching Chinese nationals it says are illegal poachers. He has the story from Palawan province.
Video

Video China's Spratly Island Building Said to Light Up the Night 'Like A City'

Southeast Asian countries claim China has illegally seized territory in the Spratly islands. It is especially a concern for a Philippine mayor who says Beijing is occupying parts of his municipality. Jason Strother reports from the capital of Palawan province, Puerto Princesa.
Video

Video Ages-old Ice Reveals Secrets of Climate Change

Ice caps don't just exist at the world's poles. There are also tropical ice caps, and the largest sits atop the Peruvian Andes - but it is melting, quickly, and may be gone within the next 20 years. George Putic reports scientists are now rushing to take samples to get at the valuable information about climate change locked in the ice.

VOA Blogs