BBG seeks proposal for VOA social networking studies in Lagos, Jakarta, and - even though VOA no longer has Arabic - Cairo.

Posted: 05 Sep 2011   Print   Send a link, 29 July 2011: "The Broadcasting Board of Governors (BBG), International Broadcasting Bureau (IBB) Governors [sic: meaning the BBG governors responsible for the IBB?] requires a contractor to conduct a social networking study of the following markets: Lagos, Nigeria, Cairo, Egypt, and Jakarta, Indonesia. The Broadcasting Board of Governors operates the Voice of America (VOA) is a U.S.-based, publicly funded international broadcaster dedicated to providing objective news and information to audiences in under-served media environments around the world. While traditionally focused on delivering its content via broadcast media, VOA is moving aggressively to expand distribution via new media platforms. In particular, recognizing the explosive growth of social networking around the world, VOA is interesting in exploring how this phenomenon can best be used to supplement and enhance its traditional methods of content distribution. To succeed in this effort, VOA requires a deeper and more comprehensive understanding of exactly how web and mobile-based social networking contributes to the flow of information in key markets."

Cairo? VOA no longer broadcasts in Arabic. Arabic has been turned over to Alhurra and Radio Sawa.

The report of such a study should say this, but probably won't: In the shortwave era, VOA had 120 million listeners. With the advent of social media, VOA will have 120 million competitors. Going back to shortwave is not the answer (too late now, anyway). But what is the answer in this new age of overabundant content sources? What will elevate US international broadcasting to more than a spit in the ocean? As a first step: the entities of US international broadcasting must quit competing with each other. It is time to consolidate their resources and talents.

By the way, I'm responsible for VOA audience research in Indonesia. This is the first I've heard about the Jakarta study. One of the reasons I curate news about international broadcasting from the house where I live is to find out what is going on inside the building where I work.