U.S. International Broadcasting: Enhanced Measure of Local Media Conditions Would Facililate Decisions to Terminate Language Services

GAO-04-374 Published: Feb 26, 2004. Publicly Released: Feb 26, 2004.
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In its fiscal year 2004 budget request to Congress, the Broadcasting Board of Governors (the Board) proposed the elimination of 17 Central and Eastern European language services managed by the Voice of America and Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty (RFE/RL) in order to free resources for higher-priority initiatives such as the war on terrorism. GAO was asked to examine (1) how the Board determines which language services should be proposed for reduction or termination and (2) the extent to which local media conditions are considered before a termination proposal is made. In addition, GAO's report provides summary analysis and conclusions relating to the media conditions in three countries impacted by the Board's language service termination decisions.

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Recommendations for Executive Action

Agency Affected Recommendation Status
U.S. Agency for Global Media To improve the language service review process and facilitate future termination decisions, the Chairman of the Broadcasting Board of Governors should modify the current process to include an assessment of whether domestic media provide accurate, balanced, and comprehensive news and information to national audiences.
Closed - Implemented
Where applicable for selected language services (especially those under review for possible reduction or elimination), the BBG includes an assessment of the domestic media (focusing on the issue of "media sustainability") in its language review process, which is used to determine priorities on an annual basis. For information on a country's media sustainability level, the BBG generally consults IREX's Media Sustainability Index. (This index was recently expanded to include ratings for countries in the Middle East, but does not cover countries beyond the former Soviet Union and the Middle East. If an IREX rating is not available, a substitute approach is used.)

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