The Broadcasting Board of Governors (BBG), the Board of Governors of Broadcasting, is a US state agency that is responsible, among other things, for Radio Liberty and Voice of America. This organization, despite the decline in interest from the audience to its programs and newsasked the US Congress in the 2018 fiscal year 22,11 million dollars to broadcast to Russia.
In the 2018 Budget Request, the fiscal year of the Broadcast Management Board, "Life", contains reports on the expenses of Freedom and Voice of America for programs in Russia and statistical information.
For the upcoming fiscal year, the Broadcasting Board of Governors has asked the president for a budget slightly more than 685 million dollars. This is noticeably less than the sum of 2017 the year when 748 million dollars was spent on foreign broadcasting. In terms of these costs, Russia was the second country after China.
In the 2016 year, the newspaper notes, spending on Russian programs amounted to more than 21,5 million dollars. At 2018 fiscal year, it is proposed to spend 22,11 million dollars to work in the Russian segment. This amount is obtained by adding up the expenses for the Russian programs of Voice of America, the Russian-speaking, North Caucasian and Tatar-Bashkir services of Svoboda and the service for monitoring and working with Russian social networks DIGIM (digital monitoring). The latter structure was created in the Czech Republic to monitor Russian social networks and confront disinformation in the Russian media sphere, Life points out.
BBG openly reports that in 2013-2016's. The audience share of BBG media products decreased from 91,9% in 2013 to 67,2% in 2016. The decline occurred despite the increase in BBG activities in the Russian sector. "Life" calls the channel "Present" (project "Freedom" and "Voice of America"); Lexicon (Voice of America); local news sites in Chechen, Tatar, and Bashkir from Freedom; projects on the solidarity of journalists on TV and online, etc.
Several specific financial indicators. related to broadcasting to Russia: Voice of America for 2016-2018 mastered about seven million dollars for this article; Freedom - 9,77 million dollars in 2016 year and 10,2 million - in 2017.
A little more than 6 million dollars is allocated for activities on Russian social platforms.
The budget proposal states that the structures controlled by BBG will oppose “Russian propaganda”.
At the same time, in the USA, it is believed that Mr. Trump is “retreating” from the idea of the info war with Russia. Evidence of this statement is that the budget promoted in the US Congress by Donald Trump "aimed" at the same key tool in the US arsenal, which had previously helped promote American ideas abroad through counter-propaganda. In accordance with the proposed budget cuts, made public the other day at the White House, some future broadcasts of Voice of America may cease to exist. About this tells L. Markey in "The Daily Beast".
Waiting for VOA (Voice of America) broadcasts in Turkish is expected. This is just one of the examples of changes in the reduction of programs considered by the same Broadcasting Management Board and representing a solution to the problem of reducing the propaganda budget.
In a budget published by BBG “as part of an expanded administration proposal,” BBG stated that the proposed budget cut by 8,4% (from $ 749 million to $ 685 million) would require a reduction in VOA broadcasts in Afghanistan, Iran, even the Czech Republic, where there is "tough competition with Russian propaganda." Broadcasting in some regions will be minimized.
True, the publication further notes, presidential draft budgets almost never become laws in their original form. A source familiar with the congressmen’s discussions about the BBG noted that lawmakers had rejected previous proposals for reducing the budget of this state agency.
Still, the White House project, like other proposals by President Trump, gives an idea of the political priorities of the administration.
Trump's budget is aimed at increasing US military funding and, at the same time, is cutting back spending on other areas that promote US geopolitical interests through diplomacy and “soft power.” National security experts point out that BBG and structures under its control, primarily Voice of America, are not just an integral part of promoting US interests and countering competing propaganda, but also cost-effective (highly profitable). Tom Nichols, a professor of national security at the Naval College of the United States, says that the feds "must increase [BBG] activity, not cut its budget."
The new BBG budget proposal emphasizes that its programs aimed at the main strategic goals of the United States abroad “will continue.”
Radio broadcasting in Russia and North Korea, information operations aimed at countering the “Islamic State” (prohibited in Russia) and other terrorist groups will receive priority funding under the proposed budget, indicates The Daily Beast.
Mr Nichols, however, fears that, even if broadcasting in Russia is continued, a reduction in the corresponding BBG budgets in other regions will impede the ability of the United States to resist the efforts of Russian propaganda in these very regions. Some "forces" have already intervened in this process: "Other forces have already intervened ... In many of these areas, hostile information already controls the space."
One of these problem areas is Macedonia, where Russia "opposes everything that the United States is defending," said Voice of America employee at a private event that The Daily Beast correspondent visited. An employee of the Macedonian Voice of America, apparently worried about the proposed budget cuts, called them "very unfortunate and very shocking" and "completely incompatible with the US foreign policy towards the Balkans."
At the end of the article, the author lists all possible cuts to the BBG budget: “Voice of America” will be forced to cut broadcasts related to US military activities in the tribal areas of Afghanistan, Pakistan, Turkey, and Kurdish territories; cut programs in Persian in Iran; cut broadcasting in Georgia; completely exclude radio broadcasts in Belarus by limiting online audio broadcasts.
According to Mr. Nichols, “Russian disinformation abroad,” which dominates news headlines from last year’s presidential election, itself justifies “the need to continue investing in such programs, even if funding for tough military power [of the USA] is expanded.”
“Why did we unilaterally begin to disarm in this worst information war we have ever participated in?” Mr. Nichols wondered.
Other edition, magazine "Politico", announces a new applicant for the position of head of the Board of Directors of broadcasting.
Trump's lead candidate is Michael Pack (Michael Pack), president and CEO of the Claremont Institute (a conservative institute in California), and publisher of the Claremont Review of Books.
The powers of the BBG chapter will be updated. Thanks to broad new powers, the head of the Broadcast Management Board will control all media outlets broadcasting in about a hundred countries.
If Mr. Park is appointed by President Trump and approved by the Senate, Pak will be the first BBG CEO to take over the reins. Until now, the BBG had a “firewall” in the form of representatives of two-party rule, which controlled the BBG. In accordance with the new trends, the council will be replaced by the “advisory group”. If approved, the new CEO will have the right to hire his own directors for the five networks operating under the BBG wing, and theoretically promote any message "without the approval of the board."
In fact, the White House intends to control the BBG, thereby affecting the “independence” of the organization.
The publication reminds: BBG controls not only Voice of America and Free Europe, but also Free Asia, the Cuba Broadcasting Authority and the Middle Eastern Broadcasting Network. BBG is the largest public diplomacy program in the United States, covering an 278 audience of millions of people, leading programs in 100 countries in the 61 language. Initially, this state-owned media network was created “to counter the propaganda resources of Nazi Germany,” and today it acts as a “number of independent journalistic organizations.”
* * *
Changes in broadcasting, which are actively promoted by the Trump administration, are likely to turn the “independent” major media controlled by the BBG into tools that Trump’s personal protege will begin to control. With a reduction in the budget for special broadcasting programs, one should also expect a decrease in the intensity of propaganda passions. Indeed, it would be time to stop scaring Americans and Europeans with the “Russian threat”.
On the other hand, among congressmen, both Republicans and Democrats, there are quite a few people who condemn Trump's plans to cut spending on broadcasting abroad: the ideals of the United States must be actively promoted. Therefore, it is still premature to talk about the coming sharp reduction in broadcasting costs, including for Russia.
Observed and commented on Oleg Chuvakin
- especially for topwar.ru
- especially for topwar.ru