BBG Condemns Threats to Press Freedom and Furthers Reform Efforts

At today’s Broadcasting Board of Governors (BBG) meeting, the Board discussed and advanced plans to carry out a comprehensive reform for U.S. international broadcasting. The Board also called public attention to a string of disturbing incidents of repression and intimidation perpetrated against BBG journalists in recent months in Nepal, Azerbaijan, Cambodia, Burma and elsewhere.

The Board decried the longstanding interference with media freedom in Iran and Board Chairman Walter Isaacson noted that, “Taken together, these practices amount to the construction of an ‘electronic curtain’ isolating the Iranian people from the rest of the world.” The Board’s full statement on recent threats to its journalists can be found online here.

The Board adopted revised grant agreements with Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, Radio Free Asia, and the Middle East Broadcasting Networks (MBN) for consistency across the networks, to better reflect operational realities and to foster increased cooperation among U.S. international broadcasting. In addition, the Board voted and passed the Agency’s FY 2013 proposed budget to OMB. The BBG also agreed to establish an Internet Freedom committee to advise the Board on global Internet freedom and censorship circumvention strategies.

Governor Dana Perino announced the launch of the Innovation Commission that will meet on September 22 in New York City to foster ongoing technical developments across U.S. international broadcasting. The Commission brings together leaders who have proven success in digital media.

At the meeting VOA’s new Director David Ensor highlighted the documentary “Hope Town” which was jointly produced with MBN and showcases religious tolerance in Teaneak, N.J., as well as an innovative and highly popular VOA Mandarin webcast “OMG! Meiyu” that engages a young Chinese audience eager to learn colloquial American English.

MBN President Brian Conniff shared noteworthy Alhurra TV coverage of events in Libya as well as the eyewitness reporting by a Radio Sawa correspondent of gunshots being fired at journalists outside of Bani Walid.

A webcast of the meeting is available at www.bbg.gov.

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