via The Havana Note: Radio and TV Martí survived budget cuts yesterday. The best testimony came from the president of the local union chapter of the Office of Cuba Broadcasting employees. Remember, this is a guy whose job it is to show how important and useful TV Martí is.
Since its inception, TV Marti has been under fire from the Cuban government and from critics both inside and outside of Congress. The primary problem with TV Marti has been the difficulty of transmitting a signal into the island. The Cuban government has reportedly successfully jammed the signal since TV Marti first went on the air. Many attempts have been made to defeat the jamming but according to the best research available, all have met with little or no success.
That doesn't sound good. So then you decided to fly a plane around to get the message through. How did that go?
Attempts have been made to defeat the jamming of the signal with the latest experiment being the Aero Marti project in which airplanes are used in an attempt to transmit a television signal into the island primarily around the Havana area. According to a recent GAO report of January 2009 (GAO-09-127) the Aero Marti project has not significantly increased the audience in Cuba. The Aero Marti method of transmission is by far the most costly method of transmitting a television signal into Cuba with a yearly expense of approximately $5 million.
Bummer. But have a lot of people been able to watch it?
Even though any measure of a Cuban audience should be viewed skeptically, there is little doubt that TV Marti’s signal is not reaching a very large audience.
I see. You're very persuasive about its effectiveness.
Because TV Marti has not been very successful at defeating the jamming of the Cuban government there are those who would like to close it down entirely. This would be a mistake. We now live in a multimedia environment and radio broadcasts alone are not enough to satisfy an audience, particularly the youth. TV Marti should be thought of as a broadcaster that provides the video component of the OCB. The challenge is in how to deliver that product to the viewer.
I am convinced. When something does not work, keep trying, even if it costs $34 million a year. That is the American way. And a very good way of life, I might add. How are your workers feeling about it all?
Finally, I would like to say a few words about employee morale at OCB. The morale problem has been characterized more than once as a problem of “communication”. It is a much deeper problem than that. For years AFGE Local 1812 has received complaints of unqualified individuals being hired either as contractors or into the federal service. Reports of cronyism and nepotism have been frequent.
Well, we're not all perfect. Thanks, and I agree completely that this is the greatest program we've ever funded.