The Office of Cuba Broadcasting (OCB) oversees Radio and Television Martí at its headquarters in Miami, Florida. The Martís are a multimedia hub of news, information and analysis that provide the people of Cuba with interactive programs seven days a week through satellite television and shortwave and AM radio, as well as through flash drives, emails, DVDs, and SMS text. Combined with the online platform, martinoticias.com, the Martís are a one-of-a-kind service that brings unbiased, objective information to all Cubans.
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The significance of the Martís became even more apparent in 2013 when the lifting of travel restrictions early in the year resulted in international travel by Cuban human rights activists, many of whom made the Martí headquarters a top destination. Yoani Sanchez, Rosa Maria Paya and Orlando Luis Pardo Lazo, Jorge Cargia-Perez, aka Antunez, Ladies in White, and Antonio Rodiles all visited the network.
In June, a trashcan fire forced the temporary evacuation of OCB headquarters. Despite extensive damage to the newsroom that took months to repair, broadcasts and programming continued without interruption.
In the face of consistent jamming attempts by the Cuban government, OCB has made significant progress getting its content to residents on the island. In addition to traditional means of broadcast distribution, the Martís have employed both low- and high-tech solutions. In 2013 martinoticias.com began streaming Radio and TV Martí programming 24 hours a day, and web traffic has averaged between 180,000 to 200,000 visitors per month.
OCB is also reaching Cubans on their mobile devices. In month it launched martinoticias.com App for Android and iOS, and it also began using SMS as a means to push information out to audiences, unfiltered. These SMS messages, combined with email distribution, reach nearly 1 million Cubans each week.
Programs are also distributed throughout the island through more tangible means. DVDs and USB drives with Martí content has long been distributed throughout the island, “hand-to hand.” In June, a Youtube video surfaced, showing members of a human rights organization gathered around a laptop to watch TV Martí, demonstrating the success of this tactic.
Programming continued to be at the heart of the Martís’ success in 2013. TV Martí increased the number of original programs covering information and analysis, interviews, documentaries, series, music and live coverage of news and events, while diversifying the contents with social, economic, sports and technological topics.
For example in November, TV Martí aired the second edition of Hacia La Democracia (Towards Democracy), a half-hour program focusing on the transition from totalitarianism to democracy. The episode, which featured analysis by former Polish president and human rights activist Lech Walesa, examined the opposition movement in Cuba and the work yet to be done by civil society to bring about a democratic change.
The network also increased the number of news reports that were produced entirely on the island – both increasing the legitimacy of the reports and building the capacity of local reporters.
TV Martí launched the special programs series “… en sus propias palabras” with one-on-one interviews with the most important leaders of the dissident movement on the island such as Yoani Sánchez, Berta Soler, Antonio Rodiles, Eliecer Avila and Guillermo Fariñas.
Sports programming was also especially popular in 2013. The realities of government censorship became immediately apparent in June when the Cuban government, for the first time in more than 50 years, aired a Major League Baseball game. The game, however, was a recording of a two-month old match-up between teams which did not have Cuban players. The incident garnered lots of attention on social media and highlighted the important role the Martís play in the daily lives of Cubans. The Martís, by contrast, broadcast regular season and post season MLB games. And for the first time, Radio Martí offered its Cuban audience live, play-by-play coverage of the NBA playoffs and finals.
- Budget: $26.3 million in FY 2013
- Employees: 116
- Languages: 1
- Mobile Apps: available in Spanish on Apple iOS and Android
For more information about Radio and TV Martí, click here.