U.S. taxpayers soon will pay for hotel rooms, flights, and even the TV production costs of foreign journalists covering the Department of State. The purported goal of the endeavor is to communicate and promote U.S. policies and "American values."
The new project comes at a time when State separately is attempting to buy, produce, and disseminate its own media broadcasts, establishing a paid 24/7 "news" service with contractor assistance (see Obama Assembling de facto Propaganda Ministry; U.S. Trade & Aid Monitor, May 6, 2012).
The department through the new foreign media initiative will hire a contractor to provide "logistical, administrative and financial services" to journalists "selected" to travel to the U.S. on two-week "TV Co-ops, " according to a Request for Proposals (Solicitation #SAQMMA12R0228) that the Monitor located via routine database research.
Foreign journalists working with Foreign Press Centers (FPCs) within State's Bureau of Public Affairs (PA) around the globe likewise will benefit from this project, for which the government will award an Indefinite Delivery Indefinite Quantity (IDIQ) contract to a single vendor.
According to the RFP, the FPCs:
organize foreign and domestic Reporting Tours for foreign media. These tours, with durations ranging from two to ten days, allow journalists to explore a key news story of theme in-depth. Each tour generates multiple news reports.
Television Co-operatives (TV CO-OPS) are collaborations between overseas posts, OBS and foreign television stations that result in powerful prime-time television magazines and documentary productions. With State Department funding, TV CO-OPS communicate U.S. policies and promote American values to millions of viewers worldwide through the eyes of foreign journalists and their cameras.
State warned potential contractors via the RFP that they are bound by perpetual silence regarding their partnership with the government:
The Contractor and its employees shall exercise the utmost discretion in regard to all matters relating to their duties and functions. They shall not communicate to any person any information known to them by reason of their performance of services under this contract which has not been made public, except in the necessary performance of their duties or upon written authorization of the Contracting Officer. All documents and records (including photographs) generated during the performance of work under this contract shall be for the sole use of and become the exclusive property of the U.S. Government. Furthermore, no article, book, pamphlet, recording, broadcast, speech, television appearance, film or photograph concerning any aspect of work performed under this contract shall be published or disseminated through any media without the prior written authorization of the Contracting Officer. These obligations do not cease upon the expiration or termination of this contract.
State initially will award a one-year contract, but could offer as many as four additional one-year options. It did not disclose the estimated cost of the project.
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