About Broadcasting Board of Governors
Promoting democracy through media
The Broadcasting Board of Governors’ mission is “to promote and sustain freedom and democracy by broadcasting accurate and objective news and information about the United States and the world to audiences overseas.” In other words, it tries to help people in other countries understand American culture and foreign policy through its different affiliates like the Voice of America (VOA), Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty (RFE/RL), Radio Free Asia (RFA), Radio and TV MartÃ, and the Middle East Broadcasting Networks (MBN) Radio Sawa and Alhurra Television. Formerly part of the United States Information Agency, the Broadcasting Board of Governors (BBG) is now an independent government agency.
A brief history of the BBG
The Voice of America, today part of the Broadcasting Board of Governors, has been America’s “official” voice since the 1940s. In 1990, the United States Information Agency established the Broadcasting Board of Governors to consolidate its three broadcasting services, including the VOA, beneath a single umbrella organization. The BBG was a part of the U.S. Information Agency until 1999 when the BBG became the independent federal agency responsible for all of the nonmilitary, international broadcasting sponsored by the federal government. This occurred after the Foreign Affairs Reform and Restructuring Act of 1998 that made BBG an autonomous and independent entity.
Spicing up broadcasts
During the BBG’s early days, the agency mostly broadcasted news that people abroad could listen to over shortwave radios. During recent years, however, the agency has started to experiment with broadcasts over the Internet. VOA has started to add podcasts and RSS feeds to its websites. The bureau is also adapting content for Web-enabled cell phones. In 2005, the VOA call-in show, “Talk to America,” added SMS text messaging as a way for listeners to contribute to the program’s discussions.
The BBG also introduced new types of traditional radio programming. In 2002, the BBG launched Radio Sawa, which is broadcast in the Middle East. Radio Sawa was 85 percent pop music and 15 percent government-generated news. Over time, Radio Sawa executives plan to incorporate more public affairs programming and news. In 2003, the VOA started broadcasting an MTV-influenced weekly television show called “Next Chapter,” which is aimed at Iran’s youth. The following year, the VOA launched another new program in Persian. The show, “News and Views,” is an American-style news program that covers international and Iranian events.
Up next at the BBG
The Broadcasting Board of Governors has been implementing a five-year strategic plan begun in 2008 that is primarily focused on journalism excellence in upholding freedom and democracy. More specifically, the agency aims to: enhance program delivery on all relevant platforms; extend its reach and have a significant impact on Muslim societies; help people understand the principles and practices of democratic societies; be more technologically advanced; accommodate public opinion and engage them in conversation about America; make its workforce adapt to the changing standards of U.S. international broadcasting; optimize broadcasting operations; and preserve broadcasting excellence in all fields and broaden cooperation within U.S. Public Diplomacy.
330 Independence Avenue SW
Washington, DC 20237
Phone: (202) 203-4545
Employer Type: Government Agency
Executive Director: Jeffrey N. Trimble
2008 Employees (All Locations): 763