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AT&T has just sold the broadcaster Central European Media Enterprises to the Czech Republic’s wealthiest man, Petr Kellner.

CME also include several TV stations in Romania, the most prominent being ProTV which also happens to have the largest audience.

One of the most influential journalists argues that by this transaction the vast majority of the TV audience will under "moguls" influence (Romanian source - fragment translated below):

The decision by AT&T to sell the entire press business in Central and Eastern Europe, including Romanian PRO TV, to a Czech billionaire with a strong pro-Russian orientation is bad news for the Romanian television market.

While I cannot find a good source to confirm the connections between Petr Kellner and Russia (might be a decent question for Skeptics), US seems to lose an important media channel in the Easter Europe1.

I am wondering if making business in media does not also include a geopolitic component (i.e. owning media outlets helps influence public opinion).

Question: Does US foreign policy also try to use media outlets as "soft power" in the Eastern Europe?

To make this question narrow enough I am interested only in answers to US investments.


1 I can attest that ProTV virtually brought the modern television in Romania and also helped create a culture that favors Western values and it might be an important factor behind the fact that Romanians are both in favor of NATO and EU.

  • 2
    This seems to be a well-researched question, but what you are trying to ask is unclear. – Burt Oct 28 '19 at 19:33
  • Are you interested in something like Voice of America? – Roger Oct 29 '19 at 14:23
  • 1
    @Roger - yes, this is a good example and it was covered by K Dog who also includes the following quote: "to provide audiences in countries bordering Russia with a balanced alternative to the disinformation produced by Russian media outlets that is driving instability in the region" - this catches the spirit of my question, it is just that I clearly lack the talent to put it in such expressive words. – Alexei Oct 29 '19 at 20:46
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Yes, the most famous of these are Radio Free Europe

Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty (RFE/RL) is a United States government-funded organization that broadcasts and reports news, information and analysis to countries in Eastern Europe, Central Asia and the Middle East where it says that "the free flow of information is either banned by government authorities or not fully developed".[4] RFE/RL is a 501(c)(3) corporation supervised by the U.S. Agency for Global Media, an agency overseeing all U.S. federal government international broadcasting services.[5]

and Voice of America

Voice of America (VOA) is a U.S. government-funded state owned[1] multimedia agency which serves as the United States federal government's official institution for non-military, external broadcasting. It is the largest U.S. international broadcaster. VOA produces digital, TV, and radio content in more than 40 languages which it distributes to affiliate stations around the globe. It is primarily viewed by foreign audiences, so VOA programming has an influence on public opinion abroad regarding the United States and its leaders.[2]

VOA was established in 1942,[1] and the VOA charter (Public Laws 94-350 and 103-415)[3] was signed into law in 1976 by President Gerald Ford. The charter contains its mission "to broadcast accurate, balanced, and comprehensive news and information to an international audience", and it defines the legally mandated standards in the VOA journalistic code.[4]

Some joint programs include:

On October 14, 2014, Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty (RFE/RL) and the Voice of America (VOA) launched a new Russian-language TV news program, Current Time, "to provide audiences in countries bordering Russia with a balanced alternative to the disinformation produced by Russian media outlets that is driving instability in the region".[89] Over the next two years, Current Time – led by RFE/RL in cooperation with VOA – expanded to become a 24/7 digital and TV stream for Russian-speaking audiences worldwide.[90][91]

Around 2017, Voice of America and RFE/RL launched Polygraph.info, and the Russian-language factograph.info, as fact-checking sites.[92][93] On 19 July 2018, RFE/RL announced it will be returning its news services to Romania and Bulgaria by the end of 2018 amid growing concern about a reversal in democratic gains and attacks on the rule of law and the judiciary in the two countries.[94] The Romanian news service re-launched on January 14, 2019[95], and the Bulgarian service re-launched on January 21, 2019.[96]

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