Washington, D.C. — U.S. government funded international broadcasters reached an estimated 187 million people every week in 2011, an increase of 22 million from last year’s figure, according to new audience data being made public by the Broadcasting Board of Governors.
“We are pleased that people the world over are responding in unprecedented numbers to our high-quality journalism and active audience engagement,” said BBG Chairman Walter Isaacson. “The ability of our broadcasters to inform, engage and connect audiences through traditional and social media alike lie behind these impressive results and will be essential to driving future audience reach and impact.”
The record numbers, released in the BBG Performance and Accountability Report (PAR), measure the combined audience of the Voice of America (VOA), Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty (RFE/RL), Radio and TV Martí, Radio Free Asia (RFA) and the Middle East Broadcasting Networks (Alhurra TV and Radio Sawa). The report details impact on audiences around the globe including people in the world’s most repressive media and political environments.
The BBG’s PAR follows on the heels of BBG’s latest strategic plan, Impact through Innovation and Integration, which sets an over-arching objective of making BBG the world’s leading international news agency working to foster freedom and democracy with the goal of reaching 216 million people weekly by 2016.
This year there were significant audience increases in Afghanistan, where RFE/RL and VOA together reach 75% of adults weekly; in Egypt, where Alhurra TV doubled its weekly audience to 15% in tandem with the Arab Spring; and in Indonesia, where VOA’s aggressive affiliate strategy has boosted weekly audiences to some 38 million adults.
Audiences in many other strategically relevant countries held strong. In Nigeria, VOA retains its position as a news source of record with 23 million weekly listeners. In Burma, VOA and RFA reach 26% and 24% of adults, respectively, amounting to a weekly audience of 10 million.
Audience declines took place notably in Iran, where the government continues aggressive jamming of every BBG transmission platform, including satellite uplink jamming; and Pakistan, where the media market is increasingly fragmented and use of radio is declining.
While radio remains the BBG’s number one media platform, reaching 106 million people per week, television’s growth puts it at 97 million people. The Internet audience was approximately 10 million, with the largest online audiences measured in Iraq, Russia, Indonesia, Egypt and Iran.
- Download 2011 Performance and Accountability Report (PDF)
- BBG 2011 Audience Overview (PDF)
- BBG Research Methodology (PDF)