For more than two decades, the U.S. government has broadcast news and information to Cuba via Radio Martí (and subsequently TV Martí) to promote freedom and democracy. Over this time period, Congress has provided more than $660 million to fund these efforts. Radio and TV Martí is produced by the Office of Cuba Broadcasting, a U.S. government entity overseen by the Broadcasting Board of Governors.
By Cara Jane McGoogan (The Guardian, July 18, 2015)
This article explores the origins and development of Radio and TV Martí, as well as the current challenges facing the U.S.-funded news program. While the article notes that there is no real way to measure exactly how many Cubans listen to Radio Martí, the program claims to still be relevant in providing Cubans with access to free information. However, many Americans are calling for the end to Radio Martí as they see it as a waste of funding and a major impediment in normalizing relations. Today, Cubans can access information through the clandestine el paquete network as well as through other means, making the Radio Martí seem to be a Cold War relic.
by Lizette Alvarez (New York Times, March 24, 2015)
Conceived during the Reagan administration as a means of combatting the Castro regime and spreading information in Cuba, Radio and TV Martí are coming under increased criticism for being one-sided and irrelevant in the new political climate. Cuba has repeatedly named the dismantling of Radio and TV Martí as necessary for the full normalization of relations. Although legislation has been reintroduced this year in Congress to eliminate the Martís, they continue to have champions at high levels of the government.
U.S. Department of State and the Broadcasting Board of Governors: Office of Inspector General, July 2014
The Office of Inspector General issued a series of findings and recommendations after its observation of the Office of Cuban Broadcasting (OCB) from September-November 2013. Concerns included employee morale, security, and a need for greater oversight and better administration, but the inspection concluded that OCB had successfully implemented both the Broadcasting Board of Governors' 5-year strategic plan for 2012 through 2016, as well as the OCB's own programming needs.
Broadcasting Board of Governors Should Provide Additional Information to Congress Regarding Broadcasting to Cuba
GAO Report December 2011
The Broadcasting Board of Governors (BBG) was directed to submit a strategic plan for broadcasting to Cuba that met six specific requirements. In this report, the GAO examines the plan and determines that only one of the six requirements is fully addressed, and the remaining five only partially addressed.
GAO Report January 2009
This report examines the Office of Cuba Broadcasting’s (OCB) broadcasting approach and what is known about its audience; how the Broadcasting Board of Governors (BBG)—which oversees U.S. government broadcasting—and OCB ensure compliance with journalistic principles; steps taken to ensure adherence to domestic and international broadcasting laws, agreements, and standards; and steps BBG and OCB have taken to address management challenges. The GAO determines that decision makers lack basic information to help assess the relative success or return on investment from each of OCB’s transmission methods, and that the OCB’s broadcasts face varying levels of jamming by the Cuban government.
Broadcasting to Cuba: Weaknesses in Contracting Practices Reduced Visibility into Selected Award Decisions
GAO Report July 2008
The GAO evaluated the processes used to award the Radio Mambi and TV Azteca broadcasting contracts, and talent services contracts. It was found that IBB’s approach for awarding the Radio Mambi and TV Azteca contracts did not reflect sound business practices.
GAO Report May 1996
This report provides information on OCB’s reinvention plan, the role and use of OCB’s research analysts, the reason for the resignation of Mr. Richard Lobo as Director of OCB, and the extent of progress made in monitoring Radio Martí’s compliance with Voice of America broadcast standards. In addition, information is provided on key events and time frames concerning USIA’s Office of Inspector General investigation into allegations of management reprisals in OCB.
GAO Report September 1994
The GAO reviewed the implementation of the U.S. Information Agency’s (USIA) plan for enhancing the overall review process for Radio Martí by moving a program review unit from the Office of Voice of America (VOA) Programs to the Office of the Associate Director, Bureau of Broadcasting, and making the unit responsible for overseeing the review process at Radio Martí; and creating an external review panel to evaluate the broadcast practices at Radio Martí. Recommendations included reviewing past comments and suggestions of the external review panel and determining whether the Office of Cuba Broadcasting had adequately considered them and taken appropriate action.
GAO Report May 1992
In this report, the GAO determined TV Martí’s costs since inception, including the value of support services provided by other agencies; compliance with Voice of America broadcast standards; and compliance with the International Telecommunications Convention and its associated radio regulations. Two of the three consultants believed that the broadcasts related to Cuba and the Cuban-American community lacked balance and did not meet established Voice of America standards. GAO recommends instituting procedures to ensure that TV Martí’s broadcasts meet its established standards.
GAO Report August 1990
The U.S. Information Agency’s (USIA) conducted two surveys to assess the effectiveness of TV Martí in Cuba from March 27 to May 12, 1990. The objectives of the report are to determine if the methodology used in these two surveys and the reporting of the results were consistent with sound data-gathering techniques and supported valid conclusions. The GAO found that the survey results are flawed because they make projections on the reception of TV Martí based on an incorrect application of generally recognized methodological techniques.