A new paper by 2015-17 CPD Research Fellow Emily T. Metzgar on the evolution of U.S. international broadcasting post-WWII.
Reprinted from the CPD Blog by Emily Metzgar
Government-sponsored international broadcasting is an increasingly high-profile topic, not least because it crosses both metaphorical and physical boundaries between journalism and foreign policy.
Emily Metzgar considers whether U.S. international broadcasting can serve policy needs while keeping its journalistic integrity.
The House is moving to overhaul the handful of taxpayer-funded media organizations, but critics say the changes would turn the Voice of America into a tool for pro-western propaganda. Last week, the House Foreign Affairs Committee unanimously passed a bill to make “dramatic reforms” to the Broadcasting Board of Governors (BBG), which oversees the government-backed outlets.
Federal employees were told to identify U.S. stations but not to make offers of government-funded news to domestic media. With the controversy swirling over media reports that after a recent congressional modification in the 1948 Smith-Mundt Act, U.S. officials may try to target Americans with government propaganda, the federal agency in charge of news and information programs for foreign audiences told its employees that they can start identifying U.S. stations that may be interested in taking their programming but should not contact them specifically to market such programs.
For decades, a so-called anti-propaganda law prevented the U.S. government's mammoth broadcasting arm from delivering programming to American audiences. But on July 2, that came silently to an end with the implementation of a new reform passed in January. The result: an unleashing of thousands of hours per week of government-funded radio and TV programs for domestic U.S. consumption in a reform initially criticized as a green light for U.S. domestic propaganda efforts. So what just happened?