Washington, D.C. — The Broadcasting Board of Governors (BBG) announced its intention to restructure U.S. international broadcasting. It will seek legislation that would include establishing a Chief Executive Officer to manage the enterprise. In addition, the Board called for a plan to consolidate the agency’s three non-federal broadcast networks: Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, Radio Free Asia, and the Middle East Broadcasting Networks.
“The Board is ready to strengthen U.S. international broadcasting in part by freeing up resources locked up in inefficient and duplicative administrative structures and reinvesting in programming,” said BBG Chairman Walter Isaacson. “This is a historic agreement by the Board to streamline international broadcasting into one great organization focused on quality journalism with many brands and many divisions but unified as one organization.”
In a resolution passed at its January 13 meeting in Washington, the Board announced its intention to restructure international broadcasting in accordance with its recently released 2012-2016 Strategic Plan. The Board outlined proposed reforms and its intent to develop a draft legislative package to be called the International Broadcasting Innovation Act of 2012 (the “IBIA”). It would establish a CEO who would report to the Board and provide day-to-day executive leadership. In addition the proposed package calls for a new organization that would reflect the optimal mix of federal and non-federal assets in support of international broadcasting; repeals the domestic dissemination ban in the Smith-Mundt Act; and renames the agency to reflect the mission of a unified structure. The restructuring package would be subject to appropriate administration approval and Congressional consideration.
“While there is a compelling case for streamlining the BBG’s complex structure and leveraging the highly professional newsgathering activities of our independent broadcast services, any reform plan will retain and celebrate the individual and historic brands and their journalistic mission,” said Isaacson in summarizing the Board’s recommendations. “We look forward to working with internal and external stakeholders and experts as well as with the Administration and Congress on these proposals.”
During its strategic review process, the Board engaged the services of management consultant Deloitte and external counsel Baker and Mackenzie to gain a detailed understanding of the costs, benefits and legal issues involved. The resulting studies indicated a compelling case and potential substantial savings over five years from eliminating duplicative management and administrative functions and affirmed the legal feasibility of a merger. Further details of the Board’s Record of Decisions and previous discussions can be found below: