As a part of the meeting of the Broadcasting Board of Governors, the leaders of each of the five BBG networks, collectively known as the U.S. International Media Coordinating Council (ICC), presented key initiatives and collaborative activities aimed at maximizing their operations in today’s challenging media environment. This was the first time the ICC has presented as a group.
The panel, which was moderated by BBG CEO and Director John Lansing and held in the brand new HD studios at Voice of America, examined how each of the networks were incorporating five priorities laid out by Lansing last October. The leaders elaborated on how they and their networks are enhancing their strategic cooperation, improving the curation and acquisition of content, aggressively pursuing a market-driven shift to digital platforms, ensuring impact by measuring progress and success, and targeting BBG resources to cover key spheres of influence such as Russia and violent extremism.
Brian Conniff, president of the Middle East Broadcasting Networks, spoke about the push to digital, and discussed the success of social media on MBN’s digital strategy. Nenad Pejic, acting CEO of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, discussed the networks’ focus on specific spheres of influence, including violent extremism, and spoke about a new project called Taking Back Islam. The project is aimed at youth in Central Asia, and Pejic played a clip in which an RFE/RL reporter speaks to young children who were victims of trafficking in Afghanistan.
Acting Director of the Voice of America, Kelu Chao, spoke about the increased collaboration efforts of the networks and described how VOA’s coverage of President Barack Obama’s State of the Union address last month aired on Radio Free Asia, TV and Radio Martí and RFE/RL. President of the Office of Cuba Broadcasting Malule González reported on the takeaways from an Impact Summit that the ICC and others attended in February and presented on how each of the networks were making an impact in the lives of their audience. President of RFA Libby Liu spoke about Internet freedom and reiterated that censorship around the world is increasing at a dramatic pace.
The ICC was created in October as a part of Lansing’s efforts to increase synergy between the networks. The ICC meets twice a month and, as evidenced today, has resulted in significant changes.
BBG Governor Karen Kornbluh remarked that the Board is impressed with the strong collaboration and asked about their vision for future endeavors together.
“I think what you’re seeing is the tip of the iceberg,” Liu said. “I think that we are working together really well. We get together often, and that’s something that in the past was not done.”
Prior to the panel, the board met and adopted a resolution that recognized VOA’s Creole Service for its 30th anniversary, as well as a resolution that honored slain journalist Almigdad Mojalli, who was killed in an air raid last month while on assignment for VOA in his home country of Yemen.
Presiding Governor Michael Kempner also called for the release of RFE/RL journalists who are imprisoned in Azerbaijan and Turkmenistan and denounced threats and harassment facing other BBG reporters, citing several incidents in China.
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.