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Congress in Fresh Bid to Reform US International Broadcasting

FILE - House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Ed Royce (R-California) speaks on Capitol Hill in Washington.

The U.S. Congress is making another attempt at reforming U.S. International Broadcasting, which includes the Voice of America.

The House Foreign Affairs Committee has introduced legislation Thursday that would establish the U.S. International Communications Agency to replace the current Broadcasting Board of Governors (BBG).

The BBG oversees civilian government broadcasters Voice of America (VOA) and TV/Radio Marti, as well as government-funded independent broadcasters Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty (RFE/RL), Radio Free Asia (RFA) and the Middle East Broadcasting Network (MBN).

Under the proposed legislation, VOA, TV/Radio Marti and the International Broadcasting Bureau (IBB), which provides technical and administrative support, would be consolidated under the new agency with its own chief executive officer.

RFE/RL, RFA and MBN would be consolidated into a second agency to be known as the Freedom News Network, overseen by a separate board of directors and a chief executive officer.

Rep. Ed Royce (R-California) says the reform of the BBG is needed so “more of the agency’s budget can be spent countering foreign propaganda – and not on Washington bureaucrats.”

A hearing on the legislation is scheduled for May 21.

Similar legislation passed the House of Representatives in July 2014, but failed to be considered by the Senate before the congressional term ended.