Bill HR4490, which has already passed the House Foreign Affairs Committee with bipartisan support, and is expected to be taken up by the full House as early as this summer, would create a new “federal news network,” called Freedom News Network, which would subsume other US international news agencies.
Under a section of the bill headed “Creation of the Federal News Network,” the bill is explained to provide for the creation of the Freedom News Network (FNN), consolidating the grantee broadcasters Radio Free Europe/Radio Libety (RFE/RL), Radio Free Asia (RFA) and Middle East Broadcasting Networks (MBN) into one “surrogate” grantee broadcaster. The brands would remain unchanged, thus maintaining “audience name recognition.”
The board for the FNN would be composed of new individuals appointed by the Chairmen and Ranking Members of the House of Foreign Affairs and Senate Foreign Relations Committees.
The FNN would also expand its programming “into regions where no current individual surrogate broadcaster currently operates,” such as sub-Saharan Africa.
The FNN’s mission is provided by the new bill: “[sharpening] the legislative vision of the proper focus for surrogate programming, directing the new grantee to promote democracy, civil society, free media, political freedom, and uncensored flows of information”
By Day Blakely Donaldson