Broadcasters on Wednesday pitched the House International Relations
Committee on how the U.S. can best market a positive image of itself overseas.
"We are not trying to instruct the world on the proper culture to have," said Rep. Henry Hyde (R-Ill.), chairman of the panel. "We are trying to root out terrorism. We must look at these various cultures and see what we have in common."
The most comprehensive plan came from Norman Pattiz,
founder and chairman of Westwood One and a member of the Broadcasting Board of
Governors, which oversees the Voice of America, Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty,
Radio Free Asia and Radio and Television Marti.
Pattiz proposed a "global, research-driven U.S. government broadcasting network that fulfills the missions of both the surrogate radios and the Voice of America by programming their distinct content in state-of-the art 24/7 formats on the channels - FM, AM, audio and video satellite, and shortwave - that our audiences use and we control."
The Broadcasting Board of Governors already has begun
implementing such a plan, proposing to Congress that it fund the Middle East
Radio Network early last spring.
TV writer and producer John Romano - who has produced such TV shows as Third Watch and Dark Angel - said Hollywood should provide countries with "the best of those already-existing shows and movies that are not being seen abroad."
Romano cited his current Third Watch, which portrays police officers, firefighters and paramedics working
and living in New York City.
"At our best, our shows tend to show the diversity, complexity, the multi-voiced quality of American life, with its clash of viewpoints: that clash is the sound of a free society, and it's both the truest and the most attractive picture of ourselves we can provide," Romano said.
He said Hollywood should provide these shows abroad for
free if necessary.
He also suggested developing original programming to purvey America's message, and working with producers and writers in other countries to develop TV shows and movies. - Paige Albiniak