Need for Study of U.S. International Broadcasting Policy

T-NSIAD-90-24: Published: Mar 22, 1990. Publicly Released: Mar 22, 1990.

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GAO discussed proposed legislation that would establish an independent commission to review the programs, goals, and future directions of the Board for International Broadcasting and the U.S. Information Agency. GAO noted that: (1) the tight federal budget and the changing circumstances in the Soviet Union, Eastern Europe, and South Africa merited reexamination of the international broadcasting activities of Radio Free Europe and Radio Liberty (RFE/RL) and the Voice of America (VOA); (2) RFE/RL and VOA management and operations improved as a result of eight GAO reports issued between 1970 and 1990; (3) the government has not comprehensively reviewed international broadcasting activities since 1982; and (4) both VOA and RFE/RL were conducting extensive modernization programs to replace outdated equipment. GAO believes that any review of U.S. involvement in international broadcasting activities should: (1) consider U.S. foreign policy and political interests, VOA and RFE/RL missions, and program and technical requirement funds; (2) reassess the need for the continued level of support in light of present conditions; (3) consider possible consolidation of VOA and RFE/RL missions into a new organization to eliminate duplicative functions; and (4) consider ways to achieve greater operational economy and efficiency. GAO also believes that the proposed legislation should: (1) provide for the appointment of a commission chairperson; (2) address the degree of staff and member compensation; (3) address funding; and (4) address requirements for commission hearings.

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