WASHINGTON, DC—Representative Eliot L. Engel, the leading Democrat on the House Committee on Foreign Affairs, today hailed House passage of legislation to reform American international broadcasting efforts. The United States International Communications Reform Act (H.R. 4490) would modernize the Broadcasting Board of Governors by establishing new management structures, enhancing coordination among various international broadcasting entities, and providing journalists the tools they need to produce high-quality, unbiased content in a rapidly changing media environment.
"A free and open press is one of the cornerstones of a democratic society. At a time when our rivals on the world stage are flooding the airwaves with propaganda and misinformation, the United States has an interest in making sure people all over the world have access to complete, unbiased information," said Rep. Engel. "We've also got a good story to tell. By speaking directly to the people of other nations about American culture and values, and by explaining American policies, we help build the ties that bind countries together."
H.R. 4490 would create a chief executive officer to manage the day-to-day operations of a new U.S. International Communications Agency, an umbrella organization for Voice of America (VOA) and the Office of Cuba Broadcasting. It would also create a CEO to run the Freedom News Network (FNN), a new organization comprising the three existing private grantees—Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, Radio Free Asia, and the Middle East Broadcasting Networks.
This measure would define the missions of VOA and the Freedom News Network to reduce the duplication of programming, and would require robust coordination between the federal and private entities—including the sharing of content and strategic plans—to maximize efficiency. Under the new organizational structure, VOA would remain the primary source of information about the United States and American culture. The three grantees that form FNN would continue to provide news to audiences about developments in their own countries.
This bill maintains the requirement that U.S.-funded programming serve as an objective sources of news and information, and not as a mouthpiece for American foreign policy.
H.R. 4490 was unanimously adopted by the House.