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Walter Isaacson: America's Voice Must Be Credible And Must Be Heard

Isaacson at RFE 60th reception at the Newseum
(Washington, DC) Broadcasting Board of Governors (BBG) Chairman Walter Isaacson tonight announced a new direction for U.S. international broadcasting that "seizes on the latest media tools and technology to stay one step ahead of those who seek to repress free information around the world."

As Chairman of the BBG, Isaacson oversees RFE, VOA, Radio Free Asia, Radio/TV Marti, Radio Sawa, and Alhurra TV, which have a combined weekly audience of more than 171 million people.

The challenges we face...are as great today as they were during the Cold War. America cannot let itself be outcommunicated by its enemies.
"The challenges we face in the new global struggle against repression and intolerance are as great today as they were during the Cold War," he said at a reception marking the 60th anniversary of RFE's first broadcast.

"And just as the founders of Radio Free Europe succeeded in developing creative and innovative ways to get news and information to people suffering behind the Iron Curtain, so too must today's U.S. international broadcasters respond to modern threats to freedom in new and inventive ways."

Speaking at the Newseum in Washington, D.C., Isaacson said, "America cannot let itself be out-communicated by its enemies."

"Our traditional role of delivering the news top down needs to be complemented by a new approach that catalyzes social networks," said Isaacson. "By creating peer-to-peer global communities, we help guarantee the universal human right of access to the free flow of information."

KEYNOTE: Walter Isaacson at RFE's 60th Anniversary Reception

Tonight's reception honored six decades of RFE. On July 4, 1950, Radio Free Europe went on the air for the first time with a broadcast to communist Czechoslovakia from a studio in New York City's Empire State Building.

Today, RFE reaches nearly 20 million people in 28 languages and 21 countries from Europe to the Middle East. In Afghanistan, RFE's Radio Azadi is the most popular media outlet in the country. In Iran, RFE's Radio Farda is influential - its Facebook page has more than 50,000 fans.

"We remain a lifeline for people living in war zones and under authoritarian rule who seek accurate and reliable news," said RFE President Jeffrey Gedmin, who moderated tonight's reception.

RFE is an independent, international news and broadcast organization whose programs -- radio, Internet and television -- reach influential audiences in 21 countries such as Russia, Iran, Iraq, Afghanistan and the republics of Central Asia. It is funded by the U.S. Congress through the Broadcasting Board of Governors (BBG). You can follow RFE on Twitter and become a fan on Facebook.