Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty’s multimedia expansion and rapid growth was the focus of today’s Broadcasting Board of Governors meeting held in Prague, Czech Republic.The Board traveled to the RFE/RL headquarters to tour the facilities, meet the staff and learn more about the network’s operations.
With 18 bureaus and more than 1,000 journalists on the ground, RFE/RL continues to expand its traditional media outlets while also creating new, innovative ways to distribute the news to more than 23.3 million people a week — a 30 percent increase since the previous fiscal year.
“It’s been a demanding and exciting year for RFE/RL,” said Nenad Pejic, Editor-in-Chief and co-interim manager. “Our top priority was launching new Russian-language programming providing fair and balanced independent reporting on Russia and the region; We did this.”
He went on to detail the growth of Current Time, a popular news and information program jointly produced with Voice of America. Launched in October, Current Time now airs on 15 private and public television channels throughout the Russian periphery. In May, RFE/RL and VOA began producing weekend editions, and next month a Central Asian version of the program is expected to launch.
Governor Ken Weinstein noted the pace of change at the network, adding that the “energy level is impressive.”
Many of the changes outlined in the network’s presentation included a new video production capability fueled by extensive training and the construction of television studios, as well as a robust television affiliate outreach effort. A revamped digital strategy to engage audiences on multiple platforms was also discussed in detail. RFE/RL’s Russian Service, for example, operates on four key platforms: its website (average around 6 million visits per month), Facebook page (340,000 followers), Twitter (more than 120,000 followers) and YouTube (more than 1.6 million views monthly).
Governor Michael Kempner opened the meeting by reporting on the numerous threats journalists in the BBG networks have faced. He echoed the State Department’s urging for the release of Radio Free Asia Uyghur Service reporter Shohret Hoshur’s brothers who have been arrested by Chinese authorities in retaliation for Hoshur’s reporting. Additionally, Kempner called for the release of imprisoned RFE/RL contributor Khadija Ismayilova, who has been detained since December 2014. Kempner also noted the dangerous situation for VOA stringers in Burundi, one of whom had a grenade thrown at her house, and for independent Cuban journalists who contribute to the Office of Cuba Broadcasting, three of whom were arrested on World Press Freedom Day.
“It’s been an honor to be able to meet with the motivated and dedicated team here at RFE/RL,” said Kempner. “We’ve been incredibly impressed with the work we’ve seen. Your work is critical to democratic success.”
RFE/RL Deep Dive
About the BBG
The U.S. Agency for Global Media (USAGM), an independent international media organization overseen and funded by the US government, puts objective, professional news and information content to work on behalf of U.S. global interests and national security. USAGM networks include the Voice of America, Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, the Office of Cuba Broadcasting (Radio and TV Martí), Radio Free Asia, the Middle East Broadcasting Networks (Alhurra TV and Radio Sawa) and the Open Technology Fund. USAGM programming has a measured audience of 354 million in more than 100 countries and in 62 languages.