BBG Launches Russia Review, Recognizes Journalists and Departing Senior Managers, Adopts New Travel Guidelines

BBG Presiding Gov. Michael Linton and Gov. Victor Ashe.

BBG Presiding Gov. Michael Lynton, left, and Gov. Victor Ashe.

Washington, D.C. – During its final meeting of 2012, the Broadcasting Board of Governors launched an extensive review of its efforts in Russia, recognized BBG journalists and senior managers for extraordinary service and adopted new travel guidelines.

After a day-long meeting of its Strategy & Budget Committee that examined agency strategy in Russia and Iran and included the views of outside experts on human rights, the Board discussed next steps. It commissioned a six-month review of the situation in Russia to be led by IBB Deputy Director Jeffrey Trimble. Board members also made plans to travel to Russia in early 2013 to meet with officials and civil society and to explore distribution options for programming by Voice of America and Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty.

The Board adopted a resolution commending RFE/RL’s Khadija Ismailova, who spoke with Governors via an Internet link from her home in Azerbaijan. An investigative journalist, Ismailova recently received the “Courage in Journalism” Award from the International Women’s Media Foundation, which honored her for her unflinching reporting on corruption within Azerbaijan’s ruling family in the face of continued harassment, slander campaigns and attempts at blackmail. Ismailova called RFE/RL “the best America does in my country; it’s not an exaggeration.”

Board members acknowledged a series of recent incidents involving risks to BBG journalists around the world. Citing statistics from the Committee to Protect Journalists, Presiding Governor Michael Lynton noted that this year a record number of journalists worldwide were imprisoned. He highlighted the case of missing Alhurra reporter Bashar Fahmi, who was last seen in Syria on August 20. A cameraman working with him, Cüneyt Ünal, was released last month.

“The Board is deeply disturbed by the continuing lack of information about Bashar,” Lynton said in calling for his immediate release.

Lynton also cited the case of Antonio Rodiles, the Cuba-based independent producer of the Emmy-nominated TV Martí program Estado de SATS, who was jailed for 19 days; and noted the harassment and obstruction of journalists in Tajikistan, Egypt, Angola, and Zimbabwe.

“The board calls on governments to cease the intimidation and incarceration of journalists, and to hold accountable those who try to obstruct their reporting or harm them for simply doing their jobs,” he said.

In a resolution, the Board honored Gov. Dana Perino, who is stepping down at year’s end, for her “important contribution to advancing the Board’s goals for reforming the agency,” and her collegial, bi-partisan approach to the agency’s work.

The Board also honored two departing senior managers, Chief Financial Officer Maryjean Buhler, who had moved to another federal government position, and John Lennon, Associate Director of Strategy and Planning at Voice of America, who is retiring after 44 years with the agency.

The Board also:

  • Adopted a preliminary statement of principles and guidelines for travel by the Governors and agency senior managers that will help set priorities and ensure clearly defined objectives for all travel apart from trips undertaken by BBG journalists in the course of their work.
  • Voted to reduce its number of full board meetings from monthly to bimonthly beginning in February, 2013, with the option to meet in between as needed.
  • Reaffirmed its commitment to a plan to create the position of a Chief Executive Officer under existing legislation.

Documents
Record of Decisions
Minutes of the BBG Meeting of October 11, 2012
Preliminary Statement of Guidelines for Governors and IBB/BBG Senior Management and Staff Travel
Report of the BBG Governance Committee Meeting, March 7, 2012
Report of the BBG Governance Committee Meeting, March 9, 2012
Report of the BBG Governance Committee Meeting, Sept. 13, 2012
Proposed Dates for BBG Meetings in 2013
Resolution Honoring Dana Perino
Resolution Honoring John Lennon
Resolution Honoring Maryjean Buhler

Video of the meeting is  available on-demand.

For more information, please contact BBG Public Affairs at (202) 203-4400 or by e-mail at pubaff@bbg.gov.

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