Cuba Headlines

Cuba News, Breaking News, Articles and Daily Information

Rep. William Delahunt
Rep. William Delahunt has called for a congressional investigation into the U.S. Office of Cuban Broadcasting, following its decision to air anti-Castro programming aimed at Cuban audiences on local Spanish-language TV and radio stations.

Delahunt, D-Mass., said Wednesday he was also concerned about the recent indictment of a senior executive at the broadcasting office, as well as other allegations of mismanagement at its Radio and TV Marti stations.

"Is the investment of taxpayers dollars in Radio and TV Marti a worthwhile investment for the American taxpayer? Does it accomplish anything? And is it being mismanaged?" said Delahunt, who recently returned from a bipartisan congressional fact-finding trip to Cuba and favors ending the U.S. embargo of the communist island.

U.S. law generally prohibits government broadcasting aimed at foreign audiences from airing within the country to avoid the appearance of government propaganda. But the law allows for the broadcasting of Radio Marti if Cuba jams its signal there. TV Marti can be aired on local airwaves if done so inadvertently in an effort to reach the Caribbean island.

Joe O'Connell, a spokesman for Office of Cuban Broadcasting that oversees the Cuba programs, said all the congressional committees with jurisdiction over the programs had approved the decision.

Yet Delahunt, a senior member in line to become the chairman of the House International Relations investigations subcommittee, said he did not approve of the decision, nor was he consulted.

He also questioned the station's management, noting the indictment last month of TV Marti executive Jose M. Miranda for allegedly accepting more than $100,000 in kickbacks from a company doing business with his employer. Miranda is on unpaid leave, O'Connell said.

U.S. Rep. Lincoln Diaz-Balart, R-Fla., criticized Delahunt's efforts to investigate "all projects meant to help the Cuban pro-democracy movement, regularly, without fail."

Diaz-Balart said he supported the use of all available broadcasting methods that enable the Marti stations to break through the Cuban government's monopoly of the country's media.

The two local stations were chosen after a study showed they were among the stations most able to reach Cuba, O'Connell said.

Radio Mambi 710-AM is one of the few in the region that broadcasts at 50,000 watts in the late hours of the night, the same time when the Radio Marti programs will be aired. It is second highest rated Spanish-language station in South Florida, according to Arbitron ratings.

WPMF-TV, an affiliate of Azteca America, ranks third in among Hispanic viewers in South Florida, according to the company.

John Nichols, a Pennsylvania State University professor of communications who specializes in international broadcasting, said the broadcast may not technically violate the law, "but they're certainly in violation of the spirit of the law."

He noted that the Marti stations' budgets have grown over the last two decades despite a series of government reports criticizing them. The Office of Cuban Broadcasting received $37 million in federal funds this year.

"It's as if the Office of Cuban Broadcasting is the Teflon industry," he said.

Related News