New programming for DPRK and new leadership at MBN the focus of BBG Board meeting

The Broadcasting Board of Governors met this week at its Washington, D.C., headquarters to review a new collaborative project by Voice of America (VOA) and Radio Free Asia (RFA) for North Korean audiences. The Board also welcomed the new Middle East Broadcasting Networks (MBN) President Ambassador Alberto Fernandez.

RFA’s Managing Director for East Asia Min Mitchell and VOA Director Amanda Bennett presented clips from the jointly produced video project to counter North Korean government propaganda by showing North Koreans the reality of life outside the DPRK. VOA’s Palisades program tells America’s story by profiling Korean-Americans living in a community in New Jersey, while RFA’s programs Bravo My Life and My New Life depict the lives of North Korean defectors.

“VOA and RFA’s latest video project, along with Current Time 24/7 Russian-language digital network, are probably the two best examples of the increased cooperation and collaboration resulting from the formation of the ICC,” said BBG CEO and Director John Lansing. “And we’re always looking for more.”

The ICC, or U.S. International Media Coordinating Committee, is made up of the leaders of each of the five BBG networks and was implemented as a result of CEO Lansing’s priority on increasing coordination between the BBG networks.

Profile of a man looking ahead intently
MBN President Ambassador Alberto Fernandez

The new MBN President, Ambassador Alberto Fernandez, presented some of his strategy for creating a distinct voice for the network.

“It is an essential struggle to find ways to make our brand distinctive and unique and to leverage the reality of U.S. government-supported Arabic broadcasting in an already saturated media space,” said Ambassador Fernandez, as he presented several new initiatives, including a new op-ed section of the Alhurra Television website and a series of public service announcements (PSAs). He also provided a brief look at some of the investigative reporting the network has produced.

Malule González, Director of the Office of Cuba Broadcasting, previewed for the Board the upcoming Cuba Internet Freedom conference that will be held in Miami, Florida, on September 26–27. This will be OCB’s second annual CIF conference after the success of last year’s inaugural event.

Chairman Ken Weinstein opened the meeting by updating the Board on a wide variety of threats to BBG journalists, including beating, harassment, and detention.

“Every day our journalists face threats and overcome obstacles to report the news. All of us around the table are in awe of the courage of our colleagues in the field,” Weinstein said. “We must do more to fight this growing violent trend.”

The meeting comes just after the five-year mark since Alhurra correspondent Bashar Fahmi went missing in Aleppo, Syria.

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.