two men at a board table, one is talking. Other people are in the room looking on.
CEO John Lansing listens as BBG Chairman Ken Weinstein speaks at the March 14, 2018 meeting of the board.

U.S. government’s media agency targets Russian disinformation and Iranian censorship

BBG at the forefront of National Security Strategy implementation

The Broadcasting Board of Governors this week recognized the accomplishments and progress made by U.S. international media. The BBG—the federal agency that oversees all U.S. civilian international media—prioritizes advancing the President’s National Security Strategy, promotes democracy and freedom around the world, and pushes back on state-sponsored disinformation and extremism. CEO and Director John F. Lansing, who was hired by the board in September 2015, to maximize impact, also presented agency achievements and discussed a roadmap for the future.

By providing objective, accurate and reliable news and information to some of the world’s most information-starved places, the BBG and its five networks—Voice of America (VOA), Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty (RFE/RL), Radio Free Asia (RFA), Office of Cuba Broadcasting (OCB) and Middle East Broadcasting Networks (MBN)—are leading efforts across the U.S. government to counter Russian disinformation, as well as extremist rhetoric.

Data-Driven Approach to Targeting Key Audiences: CEO Lansing’s first decisions included prioritizing resources to advance U.S. national security priorities and developing an impact model to measure effectiveness beyond reach. Target audiences include Russia and the Russian periphery, North Korea, China, Iran, and Cuba, as well as those facing violent extremism. The BBG’s 2018-2022 Strategic Plan details steps the agency and its five networks are taking to advance these objectives, expand its reach to 500 million in global audiences and build partnerships in the private sector.

Countering Russia Disinformation:  CEO Lansing and the Board directed VOA and RFE/RL to create the agency’s signature accomplishment—Current Time, a 24/7 Russian-language news channel, and to add or expand more than 35 new programs to reach Russian speakers worldwide with balanced, accurate, topical, and trustworthy information.  Within 12 months Current Time has reached more than 400 million digital views, with half coming from within Russia.

Enabling New Voices in Iran: Building upon the success of Current Time and credibility of the VOA and RFE/RL Persian brands, BBG leadership is months away from launching a 24/7 cross-platform Farsi-language channel, capitalizing on the overwhelming engagement with BBG networks during their coverage of the recent Iran protests.

Spotlight on North Korea: Reflecting President Trump’s priority on bringing stability to the Korean Peninsula, BBG leadership has increased production and distribution of content to North Korea, one of the most media-restrictive countries in the world.

Countering Violent Extremist Rhetoric: Since its launch in 2015, MBN’s Raise Your Voice campaign has become a popular platform for citizens to discuss and engage on topics that underlie the appeal of ISIS and extremist ideology. In addition, MBN continues to transform into a world-class leader in Arabic-language news and other content.

Innovative + World Class Editorials:  VOA has kicked off a weekly interview show hosted by globally recognized Greta van Susteren and continues to augment the number of editorials and interviews provided by senior Administration officials to the BBG networks.

Ensuring Internet Freedom and Combating Censorship: CEO Lansing solidified BBG as a leader in internet freedom by recognizing it as a priority and creating the Office of Internet Freedom (OIF).  As governments from Turkey to Iran and China try to shut down media outlets, OIF is allowing citizens to consume accurate, fact-based reporting.

Management Reforms and Modernization:  BBG leadership is aggressively implementing the President’s management priorities of effectiveness, efficiency and accountability. This includes strategically decreasing the number of federal employees, pursuing a reorganization to increase effectiveness, evaluating possible efficiencies that could be gained through consolidating certain functions across the networks, and exploring a headquarters move that would save taxpayer money and modernize production facilities for improved operations.

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