RT, the state run channel formerly known as Russia Today widely seen in the US, is making plans to expand its presence in Europe as reported recently in the Wall Street Journal. There has been considerable turmoil at RT ever since Russia intervened militarily in Ukraine in April, and especially after a Malaysian airliner was shot down in mid-July which prompted several on-air program hosts to resign over slanted coverage.
Receiving far less attention is the current kerfuffle at the Voice of America and related international broadcasting entities funded by the US government and overseen by the Broadcasting Board of Governors (BBG). In part as a response to the expanding role of RT in the world, some members of Congress are calling for the Voice of America to be more assertive in supporting American national security interests while also addressing allegations of mismanagement.
Important issues associated with these developments at RT and the VOA were thoughtfully addressed by Lee Bollinger, President of Columbia University in 2011 about the need for America to develop an international media service on a par with the BBC, Aljazeera, RT, France 24 and CCTV, among others. The on-going debate about the degree to which broadcasting should be run with or without state involvement has been sparsely debated in the United States. Now is an excellent opportunity to rethink the critical matter of our international broadcasting policy.