- The Washington Times - Sunday, July 20, 2003

Helle Dale’s column (“Forgotten freedom,” Op-Ed, Wednesday) contains misguided and misleading information about the Broadcasting Board of Governors (BBG), and underscores a fundamental misunderstanding of why Congress created a bipartisan board of presidentially appointed, Senate-confirmed members from the private sector to supervise all U.S. non-military international broadcasting.

Mrs. Dale states that the BBG “has become part of the problem with its members attempting to run the radio services on a day-to-day basis, making this one of the most dysfunctional services of the U.S. government.” In fact, the record shows that the BBG, under the leadership of Chairman Kenneth Y. Tomlinson and his predecessor, Marc Nathanson, has been a vigorous, forward-thinking federal agency responsible for innovative programs that have allowed America to tell its story to millions of people around the world.

Far from being dysfunctional, the BBG has brought its private-sector expertise and know-how to U.S. international broadcasting. Experts from both political parties who serve on the board have moved U.S. broadcasting into the 21st century.

Backed by a five-year strategic plan (Marrying the Mission to the Market) that calls for attracting larger audiences and impact in critical areas of the world such as the Middle East, the BBG, among other things, launched popular Arabic- and Persian-language radio services, Radio Free Afghanistan and Voice of America (VOA) News and Views television programs to Iran. All adhere to the highest journalistic standards. They have allowed American policy-makers to communicate directly with the people of the region.

The BBG’s next challenge, strongly supported by the Bush administration, is to launch a 24-hour Arabic-language television station. When fully funded by Congress, the network could go on the air as early as the end of this year.

Not only is the BBG adding new programs, but it is working closely with the leaders of VOA, Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, Radio Free Asia and the Office of Cuban Broadcasting to revamp, update and improve their services for maximum impact.

We now broadcast around the world in 65 languages, bringing accurate and objective news and information about the United States and the world to audiences overseas. Our rapidly growing worldwide audience would surely be surprised by Mrs. Dale’s statement that we are a problem.



BBG Middle East Committee

Member of the Executive Committee


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