The United States Agency for Global Media’s (USAGM) Board of Governors met today and toured the recently remodeled studios at the Middle East Broadcasting Networks’ (MBN) headquarters in Springfield, Virginia.
The new studios are part of a larger effort to rebrand and revamp programming on MBN’s Alhurra Television.
“One of the first conversations I had with Ambassador Alberto Fernandez when he joined us in July 2017 was about his goal to reimagine and rebuild MBN’s networks from the ground up,” said Chief Executive Officer and Director John F. Lansing. “Today, as a result of that 16-month effort, MBN’s properties are truly competitive and highly relevant in a saturated and politicized media market.”
Alhurra officially relaunched on November 4, and yesterday—for the first time ever—live news and current affairs programming were broadcast from a new MBN bureau in Dubai.
The Board was presented with new programming from the other four USAGM networks. Office of Cuba Broadcasting Director Tómas Regalado discussed the new initiatives at Radio and TV Marti, and Voice of America (VOA) Director Amanda Bennett updated on the progress of VOA 365, a 24/7 Persian-language global network scheduled to launch in early 2019, led by VOA in partnership with Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty.
“The progress here across the USAGM is extraordinary as is CEO Lansing’s leadership and that of the entire leadership team at the various networks,” said Chairman Kenneth Weinstein. “We are extremely proud of the work we see from our brave journalists and of the support they get from the management team in Washington.”
In addition to reviewing the activities and programs of its networks, the Board also recognized the threats its journalists face to report the truth to their audiences. On behalf of the Board, Chairman Weinstein called attention to the harassment, imprisonment and attempts to discredit USAGM journalists around the world, and spoke out against the killing of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi. “Mr. Khashoggi’s death portends a dangerous trend of which many of us in international media are too keenly aware – the systematic silencing of journalists everywhere, no matter the cost,” said Weinstein. “Like Mr. Khashoggi, journalists working for USAGM’s networks understand the importance of access to unbiased and uncensored information, and take great risks to provide it.”