01:59 GMT +3 hours01 July 2016
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Stills from a U.S. anti-communist propaganda film from the fifties

Cold War Scare: US Propaganda Budget Reaches All-Time High

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Western governments routinely sound the alarm over Russian "propaganda." But President Obama’s new budget calls for a drastic increase in spending to America’s own foreign media arm, the Broadcasting Board of Governors, which already spends millions more than its Russian counterpart.

Last year, the Broadcasting Board of Governors (BBG), the US federal agency responsible for Voice of America and Radio Liberty/Radio Free Europe, among others, requested a substantial budget increase. Seeking a boost of $30 million, the BBG’s budget soared to $751.5 million.

That was, evidently, not enough money. President Obama’s newly proposed budget for fiscal year 2017 proposes another massive increase in spending for the BBG. If granted, the agency will receive nearly $778 million, a roughly $27 million increase.

That sum is even more surprising given that the US repeatedly accuses Russia of spending vast sums on a “propaganda war” against the West through news outlets like RT and Sputnik. Yet the BBG’s budget is approximately twice that of Russia’s foreign media budget.

MIA Rossiya Segodnya, the parent company of Sputnik News, operates on a budget of $75 million, including both domestic and foreign media — 10 times less than the BBG. 

RT, a publicly-funded, autonomous non-profit organization whose popularity is incomparable to VOA and Radio Free Europe, has an annual budget of slightly more than $300 million. That money — also significantly less than the sum allocated to the BBG — is used operate a number of satellite TV channels in multiple languages, a much costlier endeavor than the radio programs produced by the BBG’s outlets.

Taken together, both RT and Rossiya Segodnya’s budgets are a far cry from the BBG’s coffers, and while the agency claims to pursue objective journalism, this is hardly the case.

"[The BBG wants] to promote points of view that conform to American foreign and domestic policy," political cartoonist Ted Rall told Sputnik.

"Objectivity does not exist in journalism. It’s impossible," he added. "The best that a viewer, listener or reader can hope for when she or he consumes journalism is to understand the bias or biases of the relevant news outlet so that she or he can consider that point of view while consuming the news."

The BBG, it seems, is especially unconcerned with objectivity. Last March, US Assistant Secretary of European Affairs Victoria Nuland told Congress that the BBG was specifically committing $23.2 million to "Russian-language programming," adding that "the Kremlin’s pervasive propaganda campaign is poisoning minds across Russia, Russia’s periphery, and across Europe."

The real reason for the budget increase has less to do with concerns of objectivity, and is actually about Washington’s concern that channels like RT are actually doing their job effectively, presenting audiences with a viewpoint that challenges those presented by the mainstream press.

Despite its relatively meager budget, RT has an international audience of millions. In the US alone, 2.8 million people in major cities watch RT weekly, according to 2014 Neilsen ratings. In the United Kingdom, RT viewership tops American behemoth Fox News. Across the Middle East, RT Arabic is watched by 6.7 million people every day.

With that kind of reach, it should come as no surprise that the US government is concerned enough to beef up its foreign media arm. Last April, Helle Dale, Senior Fellow for Public Diplomacy at the Heritage Foundation, pointed out that Voice of America ranks 3,828 in Russia, while RT ranks 61.

"[Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty]’s presence and reputation in Russia, it must be added, took a beating in 2012," Dale admitted, citing poor management and the lack of qualified journalists. She also noted that RT is "flourishing."

This lack of popularity could be directly proportional to its credibility.

"If the topic is something embarrassing to the United States, such as Julian Assange or Edward Snowden," Rall told Sputnik, "I would trust Russian media more."

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Tags:
anti-Russian propaganda, propaganda war, propaganda, Rossiya Segodnya, RT, US Broadcasting Board of Governors, Ted Rall, Edward Snowden, Victoria Nuland, Julian Assange, United States, Russia
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  • karlof1in reply to (Show commentHide comment)
    ultravi01et, Funny, VOA isn't broadcast within the Outlaw US Empire. If one has a shortwave receiver, then it can be heard.
  • in reply tokarlof1(Show commentHide comment)
    karlof1, lucky that sheep don't have the ability to operate radios then isn't it
  • Porkbelly Porkerpig
    From the 1980's and before, the US told the truth, and Russians broadcast communist propaganda. Now, with political correctness, the US broadcasts propaganda, and Russia mostly broadcasts the truth. My how times have changed.
  • vendorin reply toDarcy Lee(Show commentHide comment)
    Darcy Lee, and the more they lie the less likely they have a chance to change that image.
  • allperils
    I would trust Russian media more
  • Skevin
    Voice of America and Radio Free Europe were the vectors of nazi propaganda after wwii in the world. former waffen SS and nazi or quislings from all countries were recruted by USA to handle their propaganda over Europe and Russia. everything was false and the tradition is respected today!
  • in reply toallperils(Show commentHide comment)
    allperils, definitely
  • ptcjm
    The newspapers in UK seem to continue the Litvinenko serie where the headlines are " Putin's banker " with Pugaschev in the leading roll. Amazing to read: www.theguardian.com/world/2015/jul/28/sergei-pugachev-putins-banker-interview-lives-in-fear
    www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2016/feb/12/sergei-pugachev-putins-banker-sentenced-two-years-prison-con
  • Mitach2002
    I have it on good authority that it's not Russia that will evade America, Cuba will launch three fishing boats while Iceland attacks with kayakes from the North.
    After that mole men that have been hiding in the desert for the past 700 years will emerge and begin breeding the women to make a new master race. Lmao. Boo!
  • Воин Светаin reply toMitach2002(Show commentHide comment)
    Mitach2002, That could almost be the plot of a Hollywood propaganda film! ;-)
  • The US military budget is $750b per year, whilst the Russian budget only amounts to $75b . The PRC (with a population 4.5 times that of the great satan) has a budget of $145b. And still the devils want to spin us in the face of these simple numbers, its sick !! The stupid "exceptionals" have gone mad eg only they are seeing aliens in the Nevada Desert, there are no alien sightings in the rest of the world eg the whole of Africa mebbe because they are too busy worrying where the next meal is coming from, unlike the 50m on food stamps !!
  • in reply toВоин Света(Show commentHide comment)
    Воин Света, Swindlers List by any chance ?!!
  • cast235
    To end the PROPAGANDA begin hurting interests, Just like they doing. west propaganda already saw Russia gas station in Poland been sold, because of fear of bankruptcy. They should sue this places that do propaganda.
    And the truth will always defeat propaganda's,
    Stop buying ALL foods and derivatives, including wine components etc, from all propaganda countries. That's a good beginning. No laws needed , just import replacements.
    Russia should do ALL cheeses and all that Russian's love. And prohibit the sanctioning countries to set foot inside Russia with it's industries. Ukraine's media in Russia ? Really? Soviets HATE NAZI'S... So all Ukrainian NAZIS should be KICKED OUT!!
  • michael
    a sign of fear? A sign of stupidity?
  • michaelin reply toDarcy Lee(Show commentHide comment)
    Darcy Lee, I think that also goes for many other anglophone sources such as the bbc. In australia the television news is primarily sourced from the us and some from the bbc. The news in this country is a joke and pathetic.
  • michaelin reply tokarlof1(Show commentHide comment)
    karlof1, may be they don't want to scare the homeland.:)
  • michaelin reply toВоин Света(Show commentHide comment)
    Воин Света, now that reminds me of that classic effort at propaganda: Reefer Madness. when was that again, the '30's? Don't let people tell you that the us hasn't been practising for at least that long! :)
  • Ivan Buckeye
    I came to Sputnik for the very reason of wanting to hear an outside perspective not that from the west or the United States. When is the United States government going to realize that they can't speak for every perspective and there is no way to mimic that. When everyone on earth starts telling the same line, I want a ticket for the next Russian rocket off this planet.
  • karlof1in reply tomichael(Show commentHide comment)
    michael, Thanks for your reply! There was once a law against beaming propaganda meant for overseas targets back into the "homeland" which was recently reversed despite that law's wisdom.
  • michaelin reply tokarlof1(Show commentHide comment)
    karlof1, now that's fascinating. I like that! Much appreciated! :)
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