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Trump Calls to Reduce Budget of International Media Programs

Would impact “Voice of America,” “Radio Free Europe” and “Radio Free Asia.”

WASHINGTON—The funding for U.S. international broadcasting programs like “Voice of America,” “Radio Free Europe” and “Radio Free Asia” would see a more than $170 million decrease in President Donald Trump’s proposed Fiscal Year 2021 budget.

The president’s budget calls to reduce federal funding for the U.S. Agency for Global Media’s (USAGM) international broadcasting programs. For 2020, the USAGM (formerly the Broadcasting Board of Governors) is receiving a budget of $810 million, that number would be dropped to $637 million in the newly proposed budget as part of a “refocused” effort to improve efficiencies in program delivery, reduce duplication, strengthen grants management and continue modernizing research technology, per the administration.

The administration is seeking more cost-effective and efficient methods to deliver and evaluate content that it says is more consistent with U.S. national security interests. This reduction, it says, would focus USAGM programs on a more limited set of “activities and priorities.”

In relation to the president’s national security strategy, the administration claims that USAGM programs have been “tepid, fragmented and not fully effective in countering the exploitation of information by U.S. rivals.” It goes on to say the administration does not support continuing to provide federal funds for efforts “whose effectiveness is unknown and that are not coordinated within and across federal agencies.”

Also, the budget says that USAGM is currently going through reforms to its management structure, including implementing a chief executive officer to replace the board that previously led the agency.

The president’s proposed budget for FY 2021 will be reviewed and voted on by Congress.