Audiences around the world were able to witness one of the fundamental elements of American democracy as President Barack Obama delivered his State of the Union address to Congress on January 20. The networks of the BBG provided comprehensive coverage of the address, as well as the Republican response by Senator Joni Ernst, to countries such as Cuba, Ukraine, Russia, Iraq, Iran and China via radio, television and the Internet.
With the recent easing of relations with Cuba, this State of the Union was of particular interest to many on the island. TV and Radio Martí provided Cubans with live coverage of the President’s address and the Republican response in Spanish by Florida Representative Carlos Curbello. Immediately afterwards, Radio Martí held a commentary and analysis program and collected reactions to the President’s speech on Martí social media sites.
Voice of America provided full coverage of the State of the Union speech and the Republican response with a two-and-a-half hour TV/radio/Web simulcast. Many of VOA’s services held follow-up programs with news and expert analysis of the speech’s policy implications for their regions:
- VOA’s Persian Service’s special coverage included live broadcast of both speeches, with simultaneous translation, analysis from a panel of experts, and original reports on a variety of topics covered in the President’s speech and the Republican response.
- VOA Mandarin provided a live webcast with simultaneous Mandarin translation.
- The three Horn of Africa Service language broadcasts preempted their regularly scheduled programming to give their audiences reaction and analysis of the speech, particularly as it related to topics of interest to African audiences, such as the war on terrorism.
- In addition to special news coverage VOA’s Russian service conducted an interactive segment with Dozhd TV that focused on the president’s comments about Russia, and the Ukrainian service’s coverage of the speech was carried on four national TV networks in Ukraine and online.
Audiences throughout the Middle East were able to tune in to the speeches live, with simultaneous Arabic translation on Alhurra TV and Radio Sawa, and Alhurra.com provided a live blog for audiences online. Immediately following the speech, Alhurra’s Congressional and White House correspondents provided reaction from members of Congress. Throughout the day following the speech, Alhurra and Radio Sawa played excerpts within their newscasts and provided additional reaction and analysis from Middle East and U.S. policy experts.
Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty’s Ukrainian Service live streamed the president’s speech and the Republican response. The next day Ukrainian MP, Head of Parliamentary Foreign Affairs Committee Hanna Hopko was a special guest live in studio in Kiev and commented on President Obama’s statements about continued support to Ukraine. RFE/RL’s Russian Service, as part of its “American Questions” rubric, provided audiences a scene setter prior to the speech and an overview of what Obama discussed afterwards, and dedicated the January 21 edition of its “Facets of Time” talk show to discussing the speech with Viktor Kremenyuk of the Russian Academy of Sciences’ Institute of USA and Canada, Dmitry Suslov of Moscow’s Higher School of Economics, and Alexei Arbatov of the Moscow-based think tank, the Institute of World Economy and International Relations (IMEMO).