Radio Martí and TV Martí are the most audible and visible remnants of 50 years of American futility vis a vis Cuba. But they are barely audible and seldom visible. About 1% of Cubans watch or listen. It is not the jamming, it is the near total lack of interest. Even the hapless lardass liberator, Alan Gross, trying to set up a clandestine insurrectionist communications out of his suitcase looks like a better bang for the taxpayers' buck. Cutting them off should be an easy move, since Congress has already established the principle that NPR and Public Broadcasting should live without taxpayer subsidy. And the Cuban broadcasts cost triple what goes into Public Broadcasting subsidies.
Since the OCB’s inception, more than USD 500 million has gone into funding the Radio and TV Martí broadcasts. The annual budget for the OCB reached a peak during the Bush administration in 2006 at USD 36.9 million, and hovered between USD 35 million and 33 million in the subsequent years.1 The Obama administration and formerly Democrat-controlled Congress have since stripped the OCB of USD 4 million in funding and placed restrictions on the agency’s budget. For fiscal year 2011, President Obama has proposed a budget of USD 29.2 million. In contrast, NPR receives roughly USD 5 million annually in federal funding, and provides award-winning coverage to 27.2 million listeners every week.
John Nichols, a retired Penn State University professor and expert on Cuban communications, estimates that passage of this legislation is “highly unlikely.” Although we are in a budget crisis, he says, the broadcasts are “symbolic of an irrational U.S. policy toward Cuba.” After two decades, the Radio and TV Martí broadcasts have become a forgotten issue, and their cessation may not occur until a larger change in U.S.-Cuba policy is made. See COHA Report