U.S. international broadcasters continue to draw large global audiences on radio, television, and the Internet in key countries, according to the newest Broadcasting Board of Governors’ (BBG) Performance and Accountability Report released today.
Afghanistan, Iran, Iraq, Indonesia, and Burma are among countries where the five entities under the BBG reached substantial audiences in 2010. The BBG broadcasters are increasingly popular in conflict-prone regions and those that lack reliable sources of news and information. Expanded transmissions, new television offerings and additional affiliate distribution platforms helped to increase audiences.
In Afghanistan, Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty’s (RFE/RL) Radio Azadi and Voice of America’s (VOA) Afghan service reach 65% of adults, including in remote tribal areas. In Burma, the BBG’s first-ever national survey found that more than eight million people tune in to Radio Free Asia (RFA) and VOA. The U.S. is the leading international broadcaster in Iran, with the VOA’s popular Persian News Network and RFE’/RL’s Radio Farda. In Iraq, Alhurra TV reaches 66% of adults each week, and Radio Sawa is the second most popular radio station in the country. In Indonesia, the world’s most populous Muslim-majority nation, VOA reaches more than 25 million people weekly.
The BBG is delivering news to growing audiences on the Internet, via text messaging and new media platforms, continuing its active outreach to young audiences, independent bloggers and nascent social networks around the world. The largest BBG Internet audiences are in Iraq, Mogadishu, Somalia, Kuwait, and Oman.
Overall, the report finds that more than 165 million people turn to U.S. international broadcasts across media platforms every week and that most consistently find programming consistently highly reliable and informative.
The figure is a decrease from the BBG’s 2009 audience estimate of 171 million people. The report notes that U.S. international broadcasting faces ongoing distribution challenges including increased local competition, crowded FM markets and fragmented TV markets. Persistent jamming in Iran contributed to the audience decline as did the discontinuation of VOA broadcasts in Hindi. Increased media fragmentation in Pakistan and the loss of key affiliates in Ukraine were additional contributors to audience declines.
Harassment and threats to BBG journalists in Cambodia, Kyrgyzstan, Iraq, Serbia, Yemen, and Uzbekistan along with censorship and jamming in many countries including China, Iran and Cuba are ongoing challenges.
The BBG’s global audience estimate is included in the Fiscal Year 2010 Performance and Accountability Report (PAR), which catalogs the Agency’s achievements against a series of defined performance measures and results. (http://media.voanews.com/documents/BBG+FY+2010+PAR1.pdf)
Further information can be found here (http://www.bbg.gov/reports/performance-reports/BBG_Research_Methodology.html) on research methodology and measures including explanation of difficulties in countries where information is tightly controlled and tuning in to foreign broadcasts is sometimes illegal.
The Broadcasting Board of Governors is an independent federal agency, supervising all U.S. government-supported, civilian international broadcasting, whose mission is to promote freedom and democracy and to enhance understanding through multimedia communication of accurate, objective, and balanced news, information, and other programming about America and the world to audiences overseas. BBG broadcasting organizations include the Voice of America, Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, the Middle East Broadcasting Networks (Alhurra TV and Radio Sawa), Radio Free Asia, and the Office of Cuba Broadcasting (Radio and TV Martí).
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