26 October 2010

The Future of U.S. International Broadcasting?

Last week I asked for reader views on the challenges to U.S. international broadcasting. I received one very thoughtful response from Sten in Sweden that I would like to share with you all.

Sten notes there is no VOA presence in Northern Europe (save via the web) but he says the presence of other government financed broadcasts is, as he puts it, “quite impressive.”

“I have through my satellite dish a handful of free English language news channels… channels from Russia, France, Germany, Iran and UK and two mixed from Japan and Korea. Many of those channels can also be followed via Internet. The American alternative is CNN,” he writes.

“The TV broadcasts from Russia and Iran are good. It´s a shame to admit it, but they are often more interesting than CNN… And they are certainly not transmitting a positive picture of your country.”

Sten says in his satellite world there is only one authoritative broadcaster of American news and that is National Public Radio (NPR).

Sten’s proposal is that the Broadcasting Board of Governors, which oversees VOA, should “try to finance an international channel produced by the Public Broadcasting Service (PBS, the TV counterpart of NPR) and with PBS quality programming.”

Sten says he is convinced that there is demand in many countries for more quality television. And he believes the American origin of a broadcast “would not be a hindrance as long as it is PBS. So the audience would be there – probably worldwide.”

Thanks for sharing your views with us, Sten. We will run your thoughts by VOA and BBG management and see what they think.

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