U.S. global media agency demanded outlets return money for internet freedom projects

The U.S. Agency for Global Media has asked three of its outlets to return more than $3 million they were allocated to help people in countries like China and Iran access impartial online news without their government’s knowledge, according to an agency official familiar with the matter.

The official said Middle East Broadcasting Networks, Radio Free Asia and Radio Free Europe, were told to return the so-called internet freedom money to USAGM. In Radio Free Asia’s case, that money was supposed to go to the Open Technology Fund, a digital rights non-profit financed by taxpayers.

It’s the latest example of how the Trump administration is trying to revamp the agency, which oversees taxpayer-funded media properties, and which the administration says has strayed too far from its mission of representing the U.S. abroad. New CEO Michael Pack has tried to dramatically reshape the agency by firing outlet heads and other senior

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Undaunted, US global media chief plows ahead with changes

WASHINGTON (AP) — Despite a barrage of criticism from both Democrats and Republicans, the new chief of U.S. global media is plowing ahead with changes to the Voice of America and other international broadcasters that are heightening concerns about their future as independent news organizations.

Although Agency for Global Media chief executive Michael Pack has assured Congress that VOA and its sister networks will remain independent and pledged he would consult lawmakers on significant developments, last week he initiated personnel changes and began a review of visas for foreign employees.

Some fear the moves will damage the institution’s credibility and its ability to fulfill its congressionally mandated mission to broadcast impartial news around the world by turning the operation into a propaganda machine for President Donald Trump. Others, though, see them as important and long-needed reforms.

Pack on Wednesday fired the executive editor of Radio Free Asia, Bay Fang, whom

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