BBG Executive Director Jeff Trimble briefed the Advisory Commission on Public Diplomacy today about the Board’s position on Smith-Mundt, particularly seeking to repeal the ban on domestic dissemination of BBG broadcasts.
The meeting was held on the Hill and was an excellent opportunity to discuss the administration-backed amendment to the Smith-Mundt Act that was recently sent to Congress.
In a diverse media environment, adhering to Smith-Mundt is increasingly difficult. For example, in the aftermath of the earthquake in Haiti, BBG worked with Sirius satellite radio on a proposal to make VOA Creole products available on radios to be donated by Sirius to Haitian citizens. This required Congressional approval as these broadcasts were then also available to U.S. audiences although they were not targeted to them.
Trimble outlined the Board’s view that in a global media environment where U.S. international broadcasting stories go viral, are picked up by media competitors and aggregators, and often are played back to the U.S. public, a new examination of Smith-Mundt is very much in order.