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The Broadcasting Board of Governors

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  1. Introduction.
  2. Pay-for-play - violation of journalistic ethics.
  3. Secretary of State Condeleeza Rice - the final member of the board.
  4. Jackson's defense while speaking to Levine in 2005.
  5. Conclusion.

The Broadcasting Board of Governors (BBG) which became independent of the United States Information Agency in 1999 when that department was dissolved, is charged with responsibility for US-backed, non-military international broadcasting. Such endeavors long pre-exist the BBG, and have been an important tool for getting the American "message" out during the Cold War. With the rise of the war on terror, the federal government launched two new broadcast systems oriented toward the Middle East: Alhurra and Radio Sawa. These two systems have joined the Voice of America, Radio Free Europe, Radio Free Asia, and Radio and TV Marti ? born of World War II and subsequent Cold War tensions ? in the BBG's portfolio. The BBG is a putatively bi-partisan in its operation, but the BBG is stacked with Republican ideologue appointees and former Cold Warriors turned counter terrorists. Though no more than four members of the eight member board are to be members of the same political party, the President also selects the chair of the board. The ninth member of the board is always the Secretary of State.

[...] What would happen, we asked, if we concluded that the influential chairman of the President's Advisory Board for Cuba Broadcasting, Jorge Mas Canosa, should resign? He was founder and leader of the Cuban American National Foundation, the hard-line exile organization, and it seemed unlikely that Cubans would believe that any news organization under his direction was impartial or trustworthy. The answer we got was, "No way." An election year was coming. Florida is a key state and nobody would risk the enmity of the Cuban exile community. [...]

[...] What would Levine and other critics of the current BBG make of the remarks of former Kennedy advisor Newton Minow, the man who coined the term "vast wasteland" to describe television, on the need for American journalism to be used for political purposes? In 2002, before scandal hit the BBG, Minow complained that the VOA and other organs were not doing enough: I wrote a letter the other day to The Wall Street Journal about an American journalist in Iraq who reported that Iraqis hate Saddam Hussein, but hate the United States even more than they hate Saddam Hussein, because they identify us with bombing and sanctions. [...]

[...] One of the major concerns of the BBG is to counter the flow of information by state-run broadcasters, and al-Jazeera (the only major independent broadcaster in the Middle East), which are said to broadcast pure propaganda. However, that may itself be an issue of perceptual bias as Blake (2005) points out: Supporters counter that while Al Jazeera and Al Arabiya reflect the perspectives of their audiences, they are no more biased than many American or European outlets. "Journalists on both sides make editorial decisions based on their culture," says Hugh Miles, an Oxford-educated Arabist and author of a recently published book on Al Jazeera. [...]

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