Board reviews impact of new agency initiatives

The Broadcasting Board of Governors met yesterday in Washington, D.C., to review the agency’s efforts to counter extremist rhetoric, provide accurate and reliable news, and tell America’s story to the world.

“I want to applaud the extraordinary quality of the work networks are producing and the impact they are having,” said BBG Chairman Kenneth Weinstein. “This is a critical moment for U.S. international media and freedom of the press around the world, and today we have seen examples of just how important that work is.”

Brian Conniff, President of the Middle East Broadcasting Networks, previewed a new documentary series Exiting ISIS, which features one-on-one interviews with ISIS defectors. The 13-part series delves into what these defectors lived through while being a part of ISIS and what drove them away from the extremist group. The series will be released in early July.

A middle-aged Caucasian man in a suit speaks to others while seated at a conference room table
MBN President Brian Conniff speaks during the June 2017 Broadcasting Board of Governors meeting.

Conniff, who recently announced he was stepping down as President of MBN, was recognized for his leadership and dedication to the values and mission of the BBG.

“Brian has run MBN like a maestro,” said Chairman Weinstein. “Under his leadership, MBN has grown into a modern and effective organization that responds effectively to the Middle East’s evolving media environment and challenges. We are sincerely grateful for his work, leadership, and friendship, and we wish him well.”

Ambassador Alberto Fernandez will take over as MBN President on July 17. The Board contended Fernandez’s skill, experience, and regional expertise will continue to drive forward MBN’s multimedia operations and long-term growth.

Amanda Bennett, Director of the Voice of America, updated the Board on recent initiatives focused on telling America’s story. In addition to opening a Silicon Valley bureau, Bennett showed a clip of the new series, Off the Highway, which profiles everyday Americans living in small towns in the central United States.

Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty President Tom Kent, Radio Free Asia President Libby Liu and Office of Cuba Broadcasting Director Malule González provided recent examples of innovative programming from their networks. RFE/RL’s recent investigative report on child abuse in an Uzbek daycare led to the firing of several teachers. A documentary produced by the Martís, featuring exclusive interviews with pilots involved in the Bay of Pigs invasion sparked conversation among young Cubans who were previously unaware of the incident. And in Cambodia, VOA and RFA provided unparalleled coverage of the recent elections, despite efforts by the government to control information leading up to the polls.

Watch the video of today’s meeting above.

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 61 languages.