VOA correspondent Ayesha Tanzeem speaks to refugees in Hungary

U.S. international media attracts record audience of 226 million

The Broadcasting Board of Governors today released its annual impact numbers, including an unprecedented weekly measured audience of 226 million. The increase includes substantial gains in digital and television audiences in highly competitive media markets that are of strategic importance to the United States.

Digital audiences increased from 25 million to 32 million, driven in part by social media and BBG-sponsored Internet circumvention tools used to evade the Chinese firewall to access Radio Free Asia and Voice of America content, as well as a new multi-platform campaign launched by the Middle East Broadcasting Networks aimed at engaging Iraqi audiences and providing them an opportunity to voice their opinions.

Thanks in part to a successful customized affiliate strategy, especially in Latin America, Africa and the Russian periphery, television audiences saw a substantial increase, growing 18 million in the last year.

“This audience increase — while it is just one of many impact measurements — shows the hunger for accurate and reliable information around the world,” said BBG CEO and Director John Lansing. “As propaganda and misinformation continue to saturate media markets globally, more and more people are turning to the networks of the BBG for trusted, fact-based reporting. But even as we reach more people, we will hold ourselves accountable to ensuring that our content has measurable impact in the parts of the world where free speech and expression are inhibited or denied altogether.”

In addition to weekly audience size, the BBG measures its impact using quantitative, qualitative, digital and anecdotal data on a wide range of factors including program quality and credibility, engagement with the news process, and audience understanding of current events. Examples of impact include:

  • Ramped up coverage of Russia and the periphery by Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty and Voice of America with a daily co-produced television program carried by 25 affiliates throughout the region that is watched by nearly two million people weekly online in Russia.
  • Continued and expanded reporting by Voice of America during the upheaval in Burundi – the only international source of news and information in Kirundi after the government shutdown private radio and social media
  • The successful launch of a news program by the Office of Cuba Broadcasting dedicated to informing the people of Cuba on the process of normalization of relations between the U.S. and Cuba.

To learn more about the BBG’s performance measures, the 2015 Performance and Accountability Report, along with the BBG’s 2015 audience overview and explanation of research methodology are available here.

[Ed Note: This version of the press release contains a clarification on how audiences in China access RFA and VOA content.]

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Contact Laurie Moy
Writer-Editor (Multimedia), Office of Public Affairs