Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Kafka, the BBG, and U.S. Public Diplomacy

Not long after the former Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton, declared that the Broadcasting Board of Governors (an independent federal agency supervising all U.S. government-supported, civilian international media whose mission is to inform, engage and connect people around the world in support of freedom and democracy) was "practically defunct" (a view shared by others in and out of government), A BBG  press release dated July 1 proclaims that "For the First Time in 65 Years, BBG Content Will Be 'Legally' Available in the U.S." -- thanks to a modification of the Smith-Mundt Act of 1948 that permits the stateside distribution of BBG content upon request.

So, it turns out (and I am not blaming anyone for this development, doubtless a mere coincidence), now that the BBG is supposedly "defunct," Americans can, at last, enjoy its services ... Or, cynics would say, a typical USA taxpayer will, finally, without fear of a jail sentence (I'm exaggerating), be able to witness the BBG's programs.

One cannot help but be tempted to ask: Isn't a naive charm of U.S. international broadcasting -- some consider it a part of American public diplomacy -- that its status, sometimes bordering on the absurd, can appear to be straight out of a Kafka short story?

Kafka image from

1 comment:

Nick Cull said...

Ironic indeed. Time for a serious conversation about the mission of US IB and creating a management structure suited to that end.