Male reporter in front of election signs on the sidewalk
Alhurra correspondent in Dearborn, Michigan reports on the 2016 U.S. election.

BBG networks provide a front-row seat to historic U.S. elections

Read about our networks’ distribution of election programming via affiliates and social media »

Audiences around the world, including in some of the most press-restrictive countries, had access to full, comprehensive coverage of the historic 58th U.S. presidential election, thanks to the networks of the BBG. The around-the-clock coverage included live coverage as the returns came in; reporting from journalists fanned out across the country gathering the opinions of candidates, pundits and voters; and interactives and video packages explaining the intricacies of the U.S. political system.

Targeted coverage

BBG’s Election Day coverage targeted key audiences around the world including:


The VOA — RFE/RL Current Time digital network offered its audience eight hours of live Russian-language coverage on election night, including simultaneous translation of president-elect Donald Trump’s acceptance speech. The live stream was available on the service’s website, YouTube channel, Facebook page and via Periscope, and was also used by RFE/RL’s many websites serving audiences along Russia’s borders in eastern Europe, the Caucasus, and Central Asia.

Ahead of the election, the RFE/RL digital media team issued reports that showed how footage of ballot stuffing in Russian elections was used in a viral Facebook post to claim ballot stuffing in the U.S. They also provided comparisons on how vote rigging allegations are addressed by media in the U.S. and in Russia; and compared the foreign policy positions of the two candidates.

Middle East

MBN’s Alhurra Television provided round-the-clock coverage starting at 7 a.m. on Election Day continuing live through 7:30 a.m. the following morning. The network stationed its correspondents throughout the Middle East and North Africa, speaking to people and experts on their expectations for the president-elect and gathering reaction to the news of the Trump victory.

Alhurra’s coverage focused on reaction from Afghanistan, Iraq and Lebanon later shifting to coverage of the Gulf, Turkey and Iran. In addition, the network’s flagship discussion program Free Hour was expanded an additional hour to feature discussion from Republican and Democratic analysts and foreign policy experts from Iraq, Saudi Arabia, Egypt and Iran.

As results were announced, Alhurra aired key remarks and speeches live, with simultaneous translation of Donald Trump’s acceptance and Hillary Clinton’s concession speech. On Facebook, provided a profile video, “Who Is Donald Trump?” introducing the newly elected President.


VOA Persian aired two days of special election programming which included over seven hours of live elections results. The service’s election night broadcasts included the live speeches of both Trump and Clinton with simultaneous translation. Also, their political talk show New Horizons featured a discussion with the Trump’s Middle East advisor Majid Rafiezadeh.

RFE/RL’s Radio Farda aired 12.5 hours of election day coverage, and devoted its one-hour morning video program “Breakfast with News” on November 9 to analysis of the election results. Farda provided its radio and Internet audiences with live updates of the results, as well as a series of features, such as the history of Iranian-American relations with Democratic and Republican administrations in the U.S. and Iranian opinion on the campaign. All of Radio Farda’s programming was streamed live on Facebook.


TV and Radio Martí aired more than 20 hours of live continuous coverage and 24-hour live blogging through social media. As part of their coverage, Radio and TV Martí interviewed Cubans immigrants who were voting for the first time, as well as, other Cuban voters across the country. They also spoke with Cubans on the island who shared their thoughts on the electoral process. The network supplemented their coverage with content produced by VOA’s Spanish service, including live hits by VOA-Spanish reporters and use of their digital content.


VOA News Center correspondents in Beijing and Seoul teamed up to produce analysis on how a Trump presidency would affect East Asia, while Radio Free Asia reported on reaction to the vote from China, Myanmar and Cambodia.

Unprecedented Collaboration

This Election Day coverage saw record collaboration between BBG networks.

RFE/RL’s Uzbek Service worked closely with colleagues at VOA’S Uzbek Service to provide audiences with content including the candidates’ positions on foreign policy issues, the high cost of U.S. elections, and how the more than one million U.S. Muslims planned to participate in the vote.

VOA’s Armenian and Georgian Services also worked closely with their RFE/RL counterparts to provide both audiences reporting on how their American compatriots planned to vote.

VOA Korean shared a story with RFAs’ Korean service on a North Korean refugee, resettled in Virginia, as he voted for the first time.

RFE/RL’s Pangea Digital unit produced an election countdown timer for use by Alhurra on its website and created an interactive electoral map, localized for 17 RFE/RL language services as well as Arabic for Alhurra, which showed real-time total and per state results.

In addition to news coverage, BBG networks created a series of explainers and infographics to help audiences better understand how U.S. elections work.  The RFE/RL newsroom produced a video explainer, both in English and Russian, on the U.S. Electoral College, as well as a glossary of key terms and phrases. While Alhurra’s website included an explanatory guide on everything their audiences needed to know about the election.

VOA’s Lexicon project sought to explain American political jargon in a series of short, quirky videos produced by staff throughout the network.