United States Agency for Global Media

USAGM networks provide State of Union coverage to the world

USAGM networks joined forces to provide comprehensive coverage of the President Trump’s State of the Union and the Democratic response by Stacey Abrams.  USAGM networks offered live, simultaneous translation of the February 5 speech and response in Arabic, Spanish, Russian, Mandarin, French, and Farsi. Voice of America anchored USAGM’s coverage, offering their content, which included live interactives, to its sister networks RFE/RL, OCB, RFA and MBN. Their combined coverage was shared with several affiliate networks in Russia and the former Soviet Union, Latin America, South Asia, Africa, and more. The networks also provided analyses of the speech, highlighting President Trump’s statements on topics of special interest to their audiences.

USAGM reporters interviewed U.S. lawmakers and prominent members of diaspora communities such as Helen Nguyen, wife of a Vietnamese American man imprisoned in Vietnam who was invited to State of the Union speech. VOA Burmese interviewed an ethnic Burmese immigrant who attended the SOTU as an invited guest. Awin Sian Mung was a Burmese refugee who was resettled in Colorado and now works as a manager of a faith-based refugee service in New Mexico.

For many audiences, the USAGM networks served as the only source of accurate and unbiased coverage of the president’s address.


VOA’s Persian Service carried the event live on all platforms with simultaneous translation. Expert analysis of the speech included Patrick Clawson, a senior fellow and director of research at the Washington Institute and Tzvi Kahn, a senior Iran analyst at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies.

Radio Farda aired VOA Persian’s translated feed of the State of the Union speech live on its radio stream and followed up on the speech with its own TV news coverage and analysis.


VOA’s Mandarin Service produced a two and half hour special program on the night of the State of the Union with full simultaneous translation and post-speech discussion with in-studio guests, explaining and analyzing the administration’s agenda and President Trump’s foreign policy priorities. The programming also included robust social media coverage with live tweets, infographics and a photo gallery.

“I watched the live broadcast throughout the whole process. I am grateful for the simultaneous interpretation provided by the Voice of America. It is earth-shattering for me. It truly reflects the American democracy. There were so many applause during the speech. I was on the verge of tears on several occasions. Even though I am behind the evil firewall, I left with the deep understanding that the real reason of the U.S. strength lies in the support of its people.” – VOA Mandarin viewer

Middle East

Leading up to the 2019 State of the Union, MBN’s Alhurra Television highlighted the issues that were expected to be addressed in the State of the Union and the Democratic response including immigration and U.S. foreign policy. The network also provided viewers with a historical context to the State of the Union address in U.S. history.

Live updates from Alhurra’s correspondents at the White House and the Congress, as well as analysis from former Assistant Secretary of State P.J. Crowley and the Washington Institute for Near East Policy’s Jay Solomon, comprised Alhurra’s in-depth reporting.  Viewers also heard Congressional reaction from Republican and Democratic members of Congress including interviews with Rep. Gerry Connolly (D-VA); Rep. Scott Perry (R-PA); Rep. Jim McGovern (D-MA); Rep. Bruce Westerman (R-AR); Rep. Val Demings (D-FL) and Rep. Jeff Fortenberry (R-NE).

Alhurra’s website (Alhurra.com) broadcast both speeches live with simultaneous translation, the site also provided readers a live blog that detailed the addresses, as well as live tweeting some of the important quotes from the speeches. Alhurra.com posted video clips highlighting President Trump’s comments about U.S. foreign policy towards the region. Following the speeches, Alhurra.com summarized the State of the Union and the Democratic response, along with reactions on social media.

Following the State of the Union and the Democratic response, Alhurra and Alhurra.com continued its coverage with reaction from the U.S. and in the Middle East.

Russia and its neighbors

Current Time aired the speech live with simultaneous Russian translation (provided by VOA), as well as the Democratic response delivered by Stacey Abrams. The broadcast was available on Current Time TV, Current Time’s website and Facebook page, and Current Time’s YouTube channel, and was also simulcast on the webpages of RFE/RL’s Russian, Belarusian, Ukrainian, Kazakh, Kyrgyz, and Tajik Services, many of which also posted their own analyses of the speech, or translations of the analysis produced by RFE/RL’s Central Newsroom.

RFE/RL’s Ukrainian and Georgian Services had VOA reporters in their programs and on RFE/RL digital properties.

USAGM’s unique and comprehensive coverage on multiple platforms dominated the news cycle in Ukraine, Georgia, Armenia, and the Balkans, reaching millions of television viewers and social media users. In Ukraine alone, an estimated 1.5 million viewers watched VOA Ukrainian’s live coverage on ICTV, one of Ukraine’s top TV Channels.

VOA’s original value-added reporting, including live interactives, aired on more than 40 key TV networks, including national TV channels in Ukraine (ICTV, Hromadske), Georgia (Maestro, TV Pirveli), Serbia (N1), Armenia (Armenia TV), Albania (Top Channel, News24), Kosovo, Bosnia (FaceTV), Macedonia (Telma TV), and Montenegro (PBS). VOA Serbian’s special report was broadcast by 23 stations.

Latin America

VOA’s Spanish Service service provided affiliate stations throughout the region with live the Spanish translation of the State of the Union address. Stations in Honduras, El Salvador, Peru, Argentina, Colombia, Guatemala, Nicaragua, Dominican Republic, and Mexico aired the entire speech. Given the interest in Venezuela, digital stations such as Venezuela TV, EVTV and Vivo Play also carried the entire speech. The service highlighted issues related to Venezuela as well as Central America and Mexico and produced three television pieces as well as radio pieces that included expert analysis.

On Twitter one of the videos where President Trump expressed his support to Venezuelan people has reported so far 1,281 retweets and 1,826 likes.

VOA Creole’s special program on the State of the Union was broadcast by 10 affiliates and provided analysis and context for the audience in Haiti. On social media the video of President arriving in Congress to deliver SOTU speech reached 10,570 on Facebook.

“I listened to the VOA Creole special broadcast on Radio Tele La Brise. I like the broadcast on the speech of President Trump because it gave me an idea of what is happening in the United States.” – VOA Creole listener.

The Office of Cuba Broadcasting provided comprehensive coverage to Cuba of the SOTU address, with Marti journalists and political analysts representing varying points of view.  OCB provided live streaming on Radio and TV Marti’s website and on Facebook Live and Twitter.

South Central Asia

VOA’s Turkish Service provided Skype standups to affiliates: CNN Turk, NTV, Haber Global and Halk TV from just outside the U.S. Capitol building.

VOA’s Afghan Service reported on the welcoming of the State of the Union address by the national unity government and provided Washington reaction to the speech to Sorosh and Jalal TV in Afghanistan.

VOA Deewa served as Washington Bureau for Mashal Radio for the SOTU coverage and provided live updates in Mashal programs.

Interviews with Members of Congress including:

Sen. Ben Cardin (D-MD) Rep. Scott Perry (R-PA) Rep. Jim McGovern (D-MA) Rep. Bruce Westerman (R-AR) Rep. Ted Lieu (D-CA) Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee (D-TX) Rep. Joaquin Castro (D-TX) Rep. Christopher Smith (R-NJ) Rep. Jeff Fortenberry, (R-NE) Rep. Eliot Engel (D-NY)