BBG's Lansing: Russian Propaganda Charges False

Broadcasting Board of Governors CEO John Lansing took aim Thursday (July 14) took aim at the Russian government for detaining BBG board chair Jeff Shell and not allowing him into the country.

He said the Russian Foreign Ministry had falsely accused Shell of being a "key organizer" of anti-Russian propaganda" and that he was being sanctioned--a permanent ban from the country--in retaliation for "visa sanctions against Russian citizens." He also said the ministry threatened others who sanction Russia with "unavoidable retaliation."

Shell was detained at Moscow's Sheremetyevo Airport and denied entry into the country despite having a passport and visa, according to BBG

"This blatant aggression is unfortunately not reserved for foreign officials and businessmen," said Lansing. "Every day, the Russian government silences critics and tightly controls the flow of information in and around the country. Voice of America and Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty provide unbiased and uncensored news and information to audiences living in Russia and the Russian periphery. But they do so at great risk.

"Over the last year, journalists at VOA and RFE/RL have been the subject of numerous smear campaigns orchestrated by Kremlin-supported media, and several of our reporters and contributors have been threatened and have had their homes searched."

He pointed out that Russia Today and Sputnik have access to U.S. airwaves while international broadcasters are denied licenses to broadcast in Russia. 

Lansing wasn't about to be bullied.

"We have and will continue to inform, engage, and connect people around the world in support of freedom and democracy. I am proud of the innovative programs and services our dedicated journalists and staff have provided to the Russian public. We believe they have the right to unfettered access to information, and we will continue to report the facts and provide access to basic information. While the incident with our Board Chair was unfortunate, it reminds us why the work we do is so important and why we will not be deterred."

Shell's board position is part time. His day job is chairman of Universal Filmed Entertainment Group. BBG oversees government backed international media outlets including Voice of America, Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty and the Middle East Broadcasting Networks.

John Eggerton

Contributing editor John Eggerton has been an editor and/or writer on media regulation, legislation and policy for over four decades, including covering the FCC, FTC, Congress, the major media trade associations, and the federal courts. In addition to Multichannel News and Broadcasting + Cable, his work has appeared in Radio World, TV Technology, TV Fax, This Week in Consumer Electronics, Variety and the Encyclopedia Britannica.