Federally Funded Radio and TV Marti to Continue Cuban Broadcasts During Shutdown
Thanks to the government shutdown, national parks are closed, hundreds of thousands of federal workers have been sent home without a paycheck, and all federal government activities considered nonessential will effectively halt.
However, controversial and ineffective government-sponsored broadcasts to Cuba through Radio and TV Martí will continue with little change. In fact, the stations are ironically producing stories about the government shutdown. Meaning, the federal government is paying to report on the fact that it can't pay for things right now.
According to an FAQ released by Martí's parent organization, the Broadcasting Board of Governors has determined the broadcasts are "foreign relations essential to the national security" and will continue. Though "evergreen and pre-recorded material will be used to the highest extent possible," breaking news and high-priority live news programs will continue. Employees needed to maintain the broadcasts and produce those programs will remain employed with no furloughs.
The station's digital efforts and website will also continue. Ironically, the federally funded news website carries a story about the government shutdown.
Martí's anti-Castro propaganda broadcasts are produced in Miami and beamed into Cuba. The broadcasts are meant to counter the Cuban government's tight control on media in the country and its own pro-Castro propaganda. The legality of the broadcasts have been questioned by several organizations, both in America and internationally. Cuba is able to effectively jam the signal, especially the TV broadcasts. A study found that less than a third of 1 percent of the Cuban population watches TV Martí.
The federal government has spent more than $500 million funding the stations since their launch, though their budgets have been reduced under the Obama administration. A report to the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations in 2010 deemed the efforts a failure.
However, even during a government shutdown, TV and Radio Martí will soldier on.