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Trump Seeks to Cut International Media Funding

The Trump Administration is proposing to significantly cut funding to the U.S. Agency for Global Media, which oversees U.S. international broadcasting (Voice of America, Radio Free Europe, Radio Free Asia). 

USAGM got $810 million in 2020, but the Trump Administration wants to cut that to $637 million in 2021. 

In its just-released 2020 budget, the White House said it is continuing to "refocus" the program to improve efficacy and reduce duplication, as well as modernize research and better manage its grants. 

President Trump, as part of his national security strategy, wants legacy communications platforms reexamined and made more cost-effective. 

"The Budget reduction would focus USAGM (previously the Broadcasting Board of Governors or BBG) programs on a more limited set of activities and priorities," the White House said.  

To date, said the budget, legacy platforms for communicating government messages abroad have been "tepid, fragmented, and not fully effective" in "countering the exploitation of information by U.S. rivals." 

It says the Administration can't support more than the scaled-back figure for efforts "whose effectiveness is unknown and that are not coordinated within and across Federal agencies." 

The budget hailed Administration efforts to reform the management of USAGM (formerly the Broadcasting Board of Governors), including putting a CEO in charge of the program rather than a board. 

The budget included a cautionary note to the agency: "Reforms, including in areas of basic oversight of broadcasting grantees and contract management, have been repeatedly called for in reports of the Office of Inspector General, for USAGM," it said. "More work needs to be done by USAGM leadership to demonstrate progress in these and other areas." 

The President proposes and Congress disposes, so it will be up to the Hill to decide which of the President's budget cuts and asks he will ultimately get.  

For example, while he has been trying to phase out federal funding to public broadcasting for essentially all of his term, Congress has not done so, even upping the allocation last time around.