Jun 30, 2020 - Economy

Federal media agency announces new interim heads after firings by Trump appointee


Photo: Drew Angerer/Getty Images

The U.S. Agency for Global Media (USAGM) announced Tuesday the five individuals who will serve as the heads of the agency's two federal organizations and three public service broadcasting networks on an interim basis.

Why it matters: The former leaders of the organizations were dismissed by USAGM's new CEO and Trump appointee Michael Pack. The dismissals and restructuring of the organization have caused concern among Democrats that the Trump administration intends to use the agency as a "political arm" of the administration.

  • Former agency leads are also raising concerns over the legality of the reshuffle.
  • A nonprofit group last week filed a lawsuit on behalf of the Open Technology Fund, an independent grantee of the USAGM, alleging that the dismissals were illegal.

The state of play:

  • Elez Biberaj will serve as the Voice of America's acting director.
  • Jeffrey Scott Shapiro will serve as the acting director at the Office of Cuba Broadcasting.
  • Parameswaran Ponnudurai will serve as Radio Free Asia’s acting president.
  • Kelley Sullivan will serve as the Middle East Broadcasting Networks's acting president.
  • Daisy Sindelar will serve as RadioFreeEurope/RadioLiberty’s acting president.

The big picture: It’s still unclear what the purpose was in clearing out all of the agency leads.

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