With VOA Korean and RFA Korean busy competing with each other, "US officials" want BBC to start a Korean service.

Posted: 29 Dec 2012   Print   Send a link
The Independent, 28 Dec 2012, Ian Burrell: "The BBC World Service could broadcast programmes aimed at residents of North Korea for the first time, under proposals being discussed by MPs, corporation bosses and US officials. Barack Obama’s administration is encouraging the Foreign Office to back plans to establish a BBC Korean service to help open up the most secret country on earth. They believe the BBC’s reputation for impartiality could help build up trust with communist state's 24 million population. ... The US government-run networks Voice of America and Radio Free Asia already broadcast into North Korea. ... It is understood that the US officials also visited the Foreign Office during their trip to London to express their enthusiasm for a BBC Korean network."

So now the scarce resources and talent available for getting news out of North Korea and back into North Korea will be divided among three stations rather than two. And people think North Korea is strange.

If the "US officials" really want to help "open up" North Korea, they should call for the consolidation of VOA and RFA. Yes, on paper, the two US stations have separate "missions." In truth -- if the truth is of any importance in the discussion of US international broadcasting -- North Koreans want to hear about what is happening in North Korea, so both VOA and RFA broadcast news about North Korea. The result is duplication, a significant form of waste in federal spending.

And because US international broadcasting insists on straddling the fence, by attempting to be both a news organization and one that "presents US policies" (see previous post), it's no wonder that "US officials" want the "BBC’s reputation for impartiality" to come to the rescue.

This story illustrates why the Broadcasting Board of Governors must reform the present ridiculous structure of US international broadcasting. Instead, the BBG perpetuates its "many brands" strategy. Such a strategy serves only to maximize job opportunities for senior-level bureaucrats. It will take more than a boondoggle with an ambiguous "mission" to "open up" North Korea.