Board Outlines Progress on Agency Reforms and Announces Steven Korn to be RFE President

At the first ever public meeting of the Broadcasting Board of Governors, the Board outlined progress on a series of reforms of U.S. international broadcasting and announced the appointment of Steven Korn, former Vice Chairman and Chief Operating Officer of CNN, as President and CEO of RFE/RL, Inc.

“U.S. international broadcasting is facing some tough challenges, not just from growing competition and tight budgets, but also from the increasingly sophisticated crackdowns on free media in many countries around the world,” said BBG Chairman Walter Isaacson. “Steve knows the news business, and his experiences will be essential as we look for ways to improve the efficiencies and increase cooperation among the five networks of U.S. International Broadcasting.”

The announcement was made during a report by the Governors on the state of U.S. international broadcasting. Governors outlined a series of Board actions taken during their first year to drive greater efficiency, and to reform Board operations and governance including merging staff components of the Agency. Board members highlighted changes in leadership and programming at Radio and TV Marti, the Persian News Network of the Voice of America and the International Broadcasting Bureau.

Citing the risks facing BBG journalists in repressive countries, Governor Michael Meehan raised the case of Ershidin Israil, a Uyghur source for Radio Free Asia, who fled persecution in China in 2009 and whose bid for asylum was rejected in April by a Kazakhstani court. In view of threats to Israil’s life in China, the Board called on the UN to provide him refugee status and for Kazakhstan to refrain from deporting him.

The Board also recognized the 2011 winners of the David Burke Distinguished Journalism Awards. This award, named after the first BBG Chairman David Burke, recognizes courage, integrity and originality in reporting within the BBG broadcast entities. This year’s winners are: Middle East Broadcasting Network’s Alhurra reporters Tarek El Shamy, Akram Khuzam, Muslim Khadil, and Nayef Mashakba; Voice of America’s Creole Service; Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty’s Belarus Service; Radio Free Asia’s Cantonese Service; and Radio Martí’s José Luis Ramos. More information about their work and a video highlighting the work of the winners is available here.

To watch the webcast of the full Board meeting, including questions and answers with attendees, click here.

Copies of additional information and Board resolutions presented at the meeting will be available in the coming days here.