Before joining the rest of the Broadcasting Board of Governors for its meeting in Prague, BBG member Matt Armstrong traveled to South East Asia to gain first-hand knowledge of the local media environment and of U.S. international media operations in the region.
Armstrong’s tour included Burma, Cambodia and Indonesia, where he met with the journalists and staff of Voice of America and Radio Free Asia, as well as with local TV and radio affiliates and other various groups and officials.
“Demand for Voice of America content, for U.S. international media content, is extremely high,” Armstrong told the board during the July 1 meeting.
Armstrong’s first stop was in Burma, where he visited the VOA Burmese Bureau and RFA Office. He also met with Burmese President Thein Sein, Minister of Information U Ye Htut in Naypyidaw and U.S. Ambassador Derek Mitchel in Rangoon.
The Institute for Political and Civic Engagement (iPACE) hosted Armstrong for a special discussion on “Role of Media in Strengthening Civil Society” at the American Center. Here, he spoke about the role of the media in a democracy and encouraged civil society to engage media to report on events of importance to the public. There was also a discussion about how to develop more accountable and unbiased media in Burma.
He then traveled to Cambodia, where he visited the RFA Bureau and VOA Filing Center. He also met with U.S. Deputy Chief of Mission Julie Chung and Public Affairs Officer Jay Raman local affiliates and civil society leaders.
His last stop was in Indonesia, where he met with VOA staff, local TV and radio affiliates and U.S. embassy staff in Jakarta.
The June 21-28 trip was made as a part of Armstrong’s work as the Chair of the Special Committee on Voice America in the 21st Century. The committee, created by the board in late 2014, was created to review the following: the role and purpose of VOA as defined in law and regulations and by stakeholders inside and outside of the BBG; VOA as an element of U.S. public diplomacy; the consequences of increased competition in media markets; the preparedness and agility of VOA to use emerging media platforms; the opportunities and risks faced by VOA’s affiliate model and role and collaboration with other media; and VOA’s structure, organization and disposition and adequacy of VOA resources.