At a press briefing this morning in Miami, Broadcasting Board of Governors (BBG) Chairman Kenneth Y. Tomlinson, joined by Office of Cuba Broadcasting Director Pedro Roig and fellow BBG Governor Joaquin Blaya, issued the following statement concerning Radio and Television Martí:
“We have been working diligently to strengthen the signals of Radio and TV Martí, to allow the people of Cuba access to uncensored news and information. As part of this effort, I am pleased to announce that we will soon undertake testing to see if TV Martí can be sent to the Cuban people by satellite. This would allow viewers in Cuba to receive the TV Martí signal via state of the art satellite technology through free-to-air reception. Free-to-air means that the satellite signal is not encrypted and can be viewed by anyone with a dish and an ordinary digital receiver. Radio Martí’s signal would also be included in the transmission.
“Hispasat will provide a powerful signal with a footprint that fully covers all of Cuba and nearly all of Latin America. Satellite receivers now on the island that are able to receive direct-to-home, free-to-air can be easily tuned to receive the signal. According to various commercial sources, satellite dishes are being used by more and more Cubans, and the numbers continue to rise. Moreover, we expect that as a powerful television signal with reliable, objective news and information becomes available to the Cuban people, it will inevitably find viewers. If we build it, they will come.
“VHS tapes with the best of the week’s programming on TV Martí will also be made available to the Cuban audience. We are confident that with the extraordinary resourcefulness of the Cuban people, and with the assistance of those outside Cuba who wish them well, these VHS tapes will quickly find an eager and growing audience of Cubans who thirst for unbiased, fair, and professional reporting that is otherwise unavailable to them. We are confident that broadcasting the truth is not only right, and our duty. It is also comfort and an encouragement to the dissidents living in Cuba who — as did their predecessors in Poland, Hungary, Czechoslovakia, and the Soviet Union — brave the dictator’s anger to speak the truth.
“But the Castro regime is not content only to misinform the Cuban people. The Cuban government also spends huge sums to block Radio Martí and its television services. We hope that the measures we are announcing today will make it easier for the Cuban people to hear and see our signal through the electronic curtain that Fidel Castro has caused to descend upon the unfortunate Cuban people. But if our efforts to penetrate this obstacle do not succeed, we will not stop trying. We will succeed.
“We are also making improvements in our programming to Cuba. TV Martí is now implementing a new format with a heavy emphasis on news and information programs. As a result, news programming will nearly double. On the entertainment side, we have arranged for Major League baseball games to be broadcast on TV and Radio Martí, including the playoffs and World Series. The Voice of America’s half-hour radio program, Ventana a Cuba, that is now aired on Saturday and Sunday will be increased so that listeners can hear it every day. Cubans with access to the Internet will be able to receive the entire increased output of U.S. international broadcasting online.
“All of these efforts are part of the Administration’s commitment both to strengthen and modernize TV and Radio Martí, and to improve the content and usefulness of our broadcasts. The freedom of Cuba’s long-suffering people remains a high priority for this Administration as it does for the American people. So long as the Cuban people remain in chains, the liberty of all people is threatened. Our efforts to provide a reliable, accurate, and accessible source of news and