Unbiased and Independent Reporting Sustains Record Audiences for USAGM Networks

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The United States Agency for Global Media’s (USAGM) annual impact and performance numbers indicate that its programming reaches continuously larger audiences than ever despite changing media environments worldwide. The Agency’s measured weekly audience grew to 350 million people in FY 2019, up from 345 million people in FY 2018 which was a monumental and unprecedented increase of 67 million over FY 2017.

“There’s clearly an appetite for unbiased news coverage and programming in today’s complex global media environment,” said CEO and Director Grant Turner. “I’m pleased that USAGM networks are meeting that need and reaching new audiences on the platforms and in the ways they consume information.”

This year’s growth is primarily due to audience increases in Mexico (an increase of 5.2 million), Afghanistan (an increase of 3.3 million), Pakistan (an increase of 3.2 million), Zimbabwe (an increase of 2.4 million) and Malawi (an increase of 2.4 million). Additionally, USAGM networks’ largest audiences continue to come from Agency priority countries like China, Iran, and Russia.

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USAGM measures impact by weekly audience size along with other quantitative and qualitative data on a wide range of factors, including program quality and credibility, engagement with content and audience understanding of current events.

Key FY 2019 accomplishments include:

  • Radio Free Asia’s (RFA) Mandarin and Cantonese Services closely coordinated timely, on-the-ground coverage of the 2019 Hong Kong pro-democracy, anti-government protests. In June as demonstrators first took to Hong Kong’s streets in mass, RFA journalists livestreamed demonstrations, interviewed participants and organizers, and published in-depth stories on protesters’ use of mobile technology to counter police tactics, among other features, to provide audiences in Mainland China with first-hand, uncensored news and information about the unprecedented events.
  • Middle East Broadcasting Networks (MBN) relaunched Alhurra television as a distinctly American channel with an American voice supporting human dignity and universal rights and values with a new programming grid, innovative graphics from redesigned studios and a new modern production hub in Dubai. The changes aimed to revitalize and redefine the channel in a hypercompetitive and saturated Arabic media market.
  • Voice of America (VOA) launched programming in two new languages, bringing VOA’s total languages to 47. VOA began newscasts in Lingala which is spoken in the Democratic Republic of Congo, as well as parts of Central Africa Republic and Angola. Voice of America’s Bangla language service started a five-day-a-week radio show in Rohingya, the language spoken by Muslim refugees that have fled Myanmar.
  • Radio Free Europe /Radio Liberty (RFE/RL) returned to Bulgaria and Romania with digital-only content streams designed to address declining media freedom and help build resilience to disinformation in both eastern European states, and launched a new reporting project for Northwest Russia called Sever.Realii (Northern Realities), covering all of northwestern Russia-including St. Petersburg and Kaliningrad-aimed at providing objective, unbiased, and on-the-ground information to the 14 million residents of the region.
  • Office of Cuba Broadcasting (OCB) produced a series about the effects climate change and sea level rise have on Cuba and Florida, and what the two sides of the Straits of Florida are doing to remedy the impact of climate change on weather, agriculture, and quality of life for the residents.

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Further information about these performance numbers and USAGM’s robust research program can be found in the 2019 Audience and Impact Report.

The 2019 Performance and Accountability report is also available online.

The United States Agency for Global Media (USAGM) is an independent federal agency, supervising all U.S. government-supported, civilian international media, whose mission is to inform, engage and connect people around the world in support of freedom and democracy. USAGM networks include the Voice of America, Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, Office of Cuba Broadcasting (Radio and TV Marti), Radio Free Asia, and the Middle East Broadcasting Networks (Alhurra TV and Radio Sawa). USAGM programming has a measured audience of 350 million in more than 100 countries and in 61 languages.

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