22 CFR § 531.1 - Overview.

prev | next
§ 531.1 Overview.

The Broadcasting Board of Governors, referred to as the U.S. Agency for Global Media (USAGM), per section 305(a)(22) of the IBA, currently provides public funds to five news media networks: The Voice of America (VOA), Radio Free Europe, Radio Liberty (RFE/RL), Radio Free Asia (RFA), the Middle East Broadcasting Networks (MBN), and the Office of Cuba Broadcasting (OCB). Pursuant to International Broadcasting Act of 1994, as amended (22 U.S.C. 6201 et seq.) (“the IBA” or “the Act”), and other applicable authorities:

(a) All USAGM-funded Networks must adhere to the highest professional standards of journalism, pursuant to section 303(a)(5) of the IBA, in order to produce news which is consistently reliable and authoritative, accurate, objective, and comprehensive, per section 303(b) of IBA. Accordingly, USAGM networks necessarily enjoy full editorial independence in order to maintain their “professional independence and integrity,” per section 305(b) of the IBA. This statutorily mandated firewall protects the independence of the networks by insulating their editorial decisions from interference from those outside of the network, or from impermissible considerations, as set forth herein.

(b) The existence of a firewall does not mean the absence of oversight. This firewall shall not be construed to limit USAGM oversight conducted in a manner consistent with that conducted by other media organizations which operate editorially independent news divisions that adhere to the highest standards of journalism; nor does it prevent federal officials from treating the networks like any other news organization: E.g., They may seek a correction; provide an interview; serve as a source; or otherwise interact in the same manner as they do with any other news organization.

(c) Editorial independence and adherence to the highest standards of professional journalism do not prevent VOA from adhering fully to each of the elements of its Charter. The VOA Charter, currently codified at section 303(c) of the IBA, states that VOA will serve as a consistently reliable and authoritative source of news, which itself will be accurate, objective, and comprehensive; represent America as a whole, and thereby present a balanced and comprehensive projection of significant American thought and institutions; and present the policies of the United States clearly and effectively, as well as responsible discussions and opinion on such policies. Editorial independence and adherence to the highest standards of professional journalism, as described herein, allow for audiences to rely on VOA to be truthful and accurate. Accordingly, these principles are considered essential to meeting the Charter's mandate that “to be effective, the Voice of America must win the attention and respect of listeners” per section 303(c) of the IBA; S. Rep. No. 703, 94 Cong., 2nd Sess. 15 (1976), reprinted in 1976 U.S.C.C.A.N. 1555, 1569; and H.R. Conf. Rep. No. 432, 105 Cong., 2nd Sess. 127 (1998).

(d) Editorial independence and adherence to the highest standards of professional journalism do not preclude any news organization from publishing editorials or opinion pieces, clearly marked as such; as described in paragraph (d)(5) of this section, VOA is required to carry editorials which present the views of the U.S. Government.