BBG outlines activities in the Middle East and new strategic priorities

Board introduces new CEO

The BBG met to delve into the strategic priorities of the BBG Board and of newly-appointed CEO John Lansing, and to hear a detailed update on MBN operations and programming.

Today’s meeting was the first time a BBG CEO has attended a BBG Board meeting, and represents a major step forward in enacting the Board’s priority to enhance BBG strategic coordination and oversight.

“John has the perfect background to be CEO of the BBG,” said Chairman Jeff Shell while introducing Lansing. “John is an outstanding manager, he started his career as a journalist, and most importantly he is a good and decent man who is doing this for the right reasons.”

Lansing presented five guiding strategic themes which he will focus on in order to improve the impact of U.S. international media around the world: aggressively pursue a shift to digital platforms, enhance the strategic cooperation across BBG network entities, enhance the curation and acquisition of content, target BBG resources to cover key spheres of influence like Russia and violent extremism, and ensure impact by measuring progress and success.

In preparation for assuming the role, Lansing explained, he conducted a “listening tour,” speaking with staff at the networks as well as constituents on Capitol Hill, the State Department and the White House.

Shortly after presenting his report to the board, Under Secretary of State for Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs Rick Stengel had a one-on-one interview with Lansing to further discuss his priorities.

Staff and leadership from MBN then presented a “deep dive” to the Board on its latest efforts to engage audiences throughout the Middle East and specifically in Iraq.

“Daesh [ISIL] is using the extreme conditions in Iraq to offer an appealing alternative to the current life many are living,” explained Brian Conniff, President of MBN. “MBN’s strategy has been to create the Raise Your Voice campaign, a multimedia platform that will enable a broader Iraqi population to voice their opinions and provide a platform for moderate voices, disavow extremism, and discuss solutions to the problems Iraq is facing.”

New programs such as Delusional Paradise, From Erbil, Your Question, What’s Your Opinion, and Light Among Us were introduced as part of the Raise Your Voice Campaign.

“Our strategy addresses the root causes of Daesh’s ideology and includes issues such as good governance, inclusiveness, education and the creation of jobs,” Conniff concluded. “MBN does this by asking Iraqi’s to ‘raise their voice.’”

Conversation with CEO John Lansing and Under Secretary of State for Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs Rick Stengel

MBN Deep Dive

About the BBG

The Broadcasting Board of Governors is an independent federal agency supervising all U.S. government-supported, civilian international media. Its mission is to inform, engage and connect people around the world in support of freedom and democracy. BBG networks 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). BBG programming has a measured audience of 278 million in more than 100 countries and in 58 languages.