Kim's Recent Essays...
US International Broadcasting: Success Requires Independence and Consolidation.
In International Broadcasting, Even the Static Must be Credible.
America Calling China: A Strategy for International Broadcasting.
I think Secretary Clinton saw the Office of Inspector General's reference to the Broadcasting Board of Governors as "dysfunctional," and, in her memory, it morphed to "defunct." They are, after all, both "func" words. (See previous post about the OIG report.)
"Defunct" is a wildly inaccurate description of US international broadcasting. The United States spends more than $700 million dollars a year on international broadcasting, with three thousand hours a week in 59 languages, via radio, television, and internet, to a weekly audience of 175 million. That is not "defunct." Secretary Clinton, as an ex officio member of the BBG, should know better.
In her statement to the House hearing, Secretary Clinton seems to be referring to the work of public diplomacy, which is conducted by offices in her own State Department. International broadcasting has a separate, complementary purpose: to provide the accurate, comprehensive, and reliable news that audience in many countries are not getting from their state-controlled or otherwise deficient domestic media. Such a news service allows to be well-informed about current events, and thus bolstered against the misinformation and disinformation of dictators, terrorist, and other miscreants.
The BBG's detractors will see to it that the BBG is permanently branded with Secretary Clinton's "defunct" and the OIG's also-over-the-top "dysfunctional." This might lead to Congress eliminating the BBG altogether. Then we would go back to a Presidentially-appointed, Senate-approved management of US international broadcasting. In such a scenario, USIB would not be independent and would not be able to achieve the credibility necessary for success in the modern global media environment.
If the US government injects "counter-narrative" into US international broadcasting, and throws USIB into the "ideological arena," audiences will notice. They will conclude that what they are hearing is not the news service they are seeking. They will tune instead to the BBC. Or maybe to Al Jazeera English.
Meanwhile, at a Senate hearing the next day, Senator Tim Kaine expressed concern to Senator John Kerry, nominee for Secretary of State, about Iranian broadcasting to Latin America. Kaine was referring to Iran's Spanish-language satellite channel Hispan TV. Hispan TV, however, is on virtually no cable systems or mainstream DTH satellite service in Latin America, Even if it were, Hispan TV's programming is so inept (see previous post) that it would not attract much of an audience. Nevertheless, Congress might pressure the BBG to expand VOA broadcasting in Spanish, or, perish the thought, create an entirely new channel. The fact that CNN en Español is already successful and informing the Hemisphere very well, and at no cost to the US taxpayers, will probably be ignored. The result will be more duplication, the hallmark of US international broadcasting.
Multichannel News, 23 Jan 2013, John Eggerton: "Outgoing Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said Wednesday that she created a new unit at State to counter jihadist propaganda in social media. When Al Qaeda puts up a video saying how terrible the U.S. is, she said, the State puts up one about how terrible they are."