Resignation came two hours after the inauguration of President Joe Biden, sparking hopes for restored editorial independence of government funded broadcasters.

Michael Pack has resigned as CEO of the U.S. Agency for Global Media (USAGM) at the request of the new President, following his appointment by the Trump administration last year. The federal agency oversees several US government-funded broadcasters, including Voice of America (VOA), Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty (RFE/RL) and Radio Free Asia (RFA).

There were serious concerns about the politicisation and declining editorial independence of the broadcasters throughout Pack’s seven-month tenure. Many were apprehensive that Pack could use the broadcast networks as a mouthpiece for the former administration.

Controversial decisions made by the Trump-backed appointee included removing the boards and senior staff of the broadcast networks. He also appointed new network chiefs prior to his departure. In the week leading up to the Presidential Elections in November, Pack announced plans to remove the “firewall” that protects the broadcasters from political interference, under the guise of improving national security. Foreign journalists working in the US were also put at risk of having the length of their visas drastically reduced following plans proposed shortly after Pack was appointed.

Read more: New rule could drastically limit the visas of foreign journalists in the US

Last week, VOA journalists called for VOA’s director and deputy director to resign. In a letter signed by the journalists, they alleged that the VOA directors “violated” the Journalistic Code that protects VOA from political and editorial interference by using the platform to stage “a propaganda event” for the former Secretary of State, Mike Pompeo. The directors removed VOA’s White House Correspondent after attempts to question Pompeo and another VOA reporter was suddenly re-assigned from their role.

Yet hopes for restored editorial independence prevails. NPR reported that the new Biden administration “appears poised to bring suspended executives back into the agency fold, replace the network chiefs appointed by Pack last month and to appoint new boards.” Kelu Chao will replace Michael Pack as the new acting CEO but it will require the Senate’s approval to appoint a permanent CEO.

The Public Media Alliance welcomes the resignation of Michael Pack and calls on the new presidency to better support and ensure editorial independence at VOA, RFE/RL and RFA and other USAGM affiliated broadcasters.

Header Image: Voice of America Building in DC. Credit: RhododendritesCC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons