Sen. Russ Feingold (D-Wis.) said Tuesday (May 4) the
government's continued funding of TV and Radio Marti was a waste and that
it could and should save $300 million over 10 years by getting rid of it.
The broadcasts, overseen by the Broadcasting Board
of Governors, were launched in 1983 under President Ronald Reagan to
deliver news and information to Cuba, but have
been routinely criticized as ineffective.
Feingold was reacting to a report by the Senate Foreign
Relations Committee, released May 3, that concluded the service did not follow
generally accepted journalistic standards, reached a minuscule audience, and
was "haunted" by charges of cronyism and malfeasance.
The report concluded in the lead of its executive summary
that "Radio and TV Marti, the U.S. Government's broadcasters to Cuba,
continue to fail in their efforts to influence Cuban society, politics, and
The government has used various methods to broadcast the
services, including a balloon-borne transmitter, a pair of planes to broadcast
from U.S. airspace off the Florida coast, and leased airtime on a Miami TV
Azteca affiliate which reaches Cuba via DirecTV, though it is illegal in Cuba
to receive it, says the committee report.
The report recommends fixes to the program, like better
training for program reviewers; moving the government's Office of Cuban
Broadcasting (OCB), which oversees the program, from Miami
and improving its programming. Funding
has already been cut to the service, but Feingold has proposed eliminating the
broadcasts altogether as part of his Control Spending Now Act.