White House Seeks 'Significant' Cuts to International Broadcasting

The President has proposed a significant cut in funding for the U.S. Agency for Global Media (USAGM, formerly BBG but "rebranded" in 2018).

That is according to the new budget submitted to Congress.

USAGM oversees various government-funded news and information broadcasts--Voice of America, Radio Free Europe, Middle East Broadcasting Networks--meant to provide unbiased information to countries lacking it, rather than to propagandize U.S. policies.

Related: BBG Restructuring Raises Concerns About Trump Control

The White House says financial support should also be "refocused to "improve efficiencies in program delivery, reduce duplication, strengthen grants management, and continue to modernize its research methodology."

The White House concedes that USAGM's shift to a digital strategy has boosted audience, but said in the President's National Security Strategy that legacy platforms for delivering U.S. messages needed to be re-thought and made more cost-effective.

The Trump Administration has already changed the board oversight structure--BBG stood for Broadcasting Board of Governors--with a CEO.

The White House, in justifying the significant cuts, said that it has also concluded that "information statecraft and public diplomacy programs by the U.S. Government have been tepid, fragmented, and not fully effective in countering the exploitation of information by U.S. rivals." It says it doesn't want to continue to fund projects whose effectiveness is unknown and whose efforts are not coordinated across government agencies.

The new budget anticipates that the new CEO can help better oversee grantees and contracts, which it points out have been called for by the Office of Inspector General.

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.