Washington, DC – Thousands of hours per week of news and information programs in 61 languages that are currently produced for audiences overseas will become available by request in the United States beginning tomorrow, July 2.
The work of news organizations overseen by the Broadcasting Board of Governors, the U.S. international media service, is viewed and heard by 203 million people in more than 100 countries around the globe.
And now the BBG will be able to respond positively to requests for this content from U.S.-based media, universities, non-governmental organizations, and individuals. The broader regulations will conceivably allow residents of émigré communities – many from areas in conflict — access to reliable news of their home countries in their native languages. It will also facilitate global connectivity and engagement and provide greater transparency into publicly-funded broadcasting. The change comes about due to legislation passed by Congress at the start of 2013 that, as of July 2, lifts some of the legal restrictions that kept BBG broadcast material from being seen in the United States.
Broadcasters within the BBG network – Voice of America, Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, Radio Free Asia, Radio/TV Marti, and the Middle East Broadcasting Networks (Alhurra TV & Radio Sawa) – are considered vital, objective news sources and are frequently cited by major media, including The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, The Washington Post, The Miami Herald, and CNN, for their high-quality reporting on topics ranging from the tragic self-immolations in Tibet to human rights issues in Iran.
“The new law will let people across America see and hear the valuable news reported by our accomplished journalists,” said BBG board member Susan McCue, who co-chairs the Board’s Communications and Outreach Committee. “It also takes into account modern content platforms that do not honor national boundaries, such as the Internet, mobile delivery and satellite broadcasting. We will continue to excel at serving overseas audiences in countries that lack a free press – but what we produce can now be viewed and heard by even more people, right here in the United States.”
“We have long advocated this change as a strategic goal for the agency,” said BBG board member Michael Meehan, who chairs the Board’s Strategy and Budget Committee. “We’ll put our resources to even better use by making these materials available within the United States. And this will only enhance our agency’s mission: to inform, engage and connect people around the world in support of freedom and democracy.”
The legislative change updates the U.S. Information and Educational Exchange Act of 1948, known as the Smith-Mundt Act, a section of which prohibited the State Department and U.S. international broadcasting from domestically disseminating any program materials that had been produced using public diplomacy funds. The law makes no change to the BBG’s enabling statute, the U.S. International Broadcasting Act of 1994, which authorizes the agency to create programs for foreign audiences.
For more information on the new legislation, visit our Facts About Smith-Mundt Modernization page.
For more information on getting access to BBG programming visit our Content Request Information page