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Bill Introduced On Reforming U.S. Foreign Broadcasting Outlets

Two lawmakers in the U.S. House of Representatives have helped prepare a bill that would clarify the mandate of the Voice of America and reorganize other U.S. government-funded radio stations.

Ed Royce (Republican – California), the chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, introduced the "United States International Communications Reform Act" to restructure U.S. international media on April 28.

Royce said government-funded radio stations are in need of broad reforms.

"U.S. international broadcasts must be effective," Royce said.

The House committee's most senior Democrat, Eliot Engel, also supports the bill.

The bill calls for clarifying the mission of Voice of America so that VOA works in support of U.S. public diplomacy.

In 1976, then U.S. President Gerald Ford signed into a law a slight change in VOA's mandate that emphasized the organization's mission as an "accurate, objective, and comprehensive" source of news, as opposed to a propaganda outlet.

A summary of the new bill states VOA will provide a "clear and effective presentation of the policies of the United States."

The bill notes that "over time, VOA has abandoned this mission."

The bill also would consolidate Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, Radio Free Asia, and the Middle East Broadcasting Network into a single nonfederal organization.

The bill emphasizes that each of these broadcasters will retain their distinct "brand names."

The bill also includes measures to save costs by downsizing the number of federal contractors at those media outlets over the coming years.

The bill comes as the Russian government has unleashed a wave of propaganda through Russian media outlets to justify the Kremlin's actions in Ukraine.

The bill has broad bipartisan support in the U.S. Congress and is expected to be passed although it is not yet clear how long it would take before all the proposed changes can be realized.
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