Michael Peck, head of the U.S. Agency for Global Media (USAGM), assured the senators that he is determined to solve the agency’s management problems after he was instructed to make “bold and meaningful changes.
This was stated in Peck’s letter dated July 8. The letter, read by Associated Press and CNBC, was sent in response to a letter from a bipartisan group of senators who expressed concern that Peck had acted without consulting Congress or informing it of his decisions. According to the letter’s authors, Peck’s decision to dismiss the heads of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, Radio Free Asia, Middle East Broadcasting Networks and Open Technologies Foundation “raises serious questions” about the future of the agency under his leadership. USAGM is also responsible for the Voice of America.
“The president, the American people and the Senate have instructed me to make bold and meaningful changes,” Peck said. – Indeed, throughout the approval process for my candidacy, and within weeks of taking office, I have made clear my commitment to addressing well-known management issues that have long been of concern to USAGM and the agencies under its leadership.
In the approval process, I promised to respect and protect the independence of USAGM journalists, and I remain true to my word,” added Peck. – I also want to reaffirm my strong commitment to the Voice of America Charter and to supporting the missions of other USAGM entities and our heroic journalists around the world. As an agency, we must convey the truth to those who want it through accurate and reliable reporting.
Meanwhile, 11 Democrats from the House of Representatives sent a letter to the heads of the Subcommittee on Appropriations for Government and Overseas Operations and Related Programs, expressing “deep concern over the dismissal of qualified executives,” as well as “reports that USAGM has frozen funding and grants” for programs designed to circumvent censorship and provide tools for Internet freedom in Hong Kong and elsewhere.
In addition to staffing and budget issues, legislators have expressed concern that “fact-based information and programs” would be jeopardized if its editorial independence was undermined.