International Broadcasting:

Downsizing and Relocating Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty

NSIAD-95-53: Published: Apr 5, 1995. Publicly Released: Apr 5, 1995.

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Pursuant to a congressional request, GAO reviewed issues related to Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty's (RFE/RL) downsizing and its planned relocation from Munich, Germany, to Prague in the Czech Republic.

GAO found that: (1) the President signed legislation in April 1994 which called for RFE/RL consolidation, downsizing, and reinvention, with the ultimate goal that the private sector assume all funding for the radios by the end of fiscal year 1999; (2) under the direction of the Board for International Broadcasting (BIB), RFE/RL expected to realize savings through merging resources, eliminating duplicative broadcasts, reducing staff, and decreasing its salary and compensation package; (3) in August 1994, BIB estimated that downsizing and relocation would cost more than $200 million and that RFE/RL would have to use some of its operating funds for those costs; (4) congressional budget cuts and lower than anticipated revenue and currency gains have contributed to the RFE/RL funding shortfall; (5) RFE/RL has not met its ambitious timeframe for construction and relocation, which could cause such costs to rise; (6) RFE/RL may face problems in obtaining the experienced talented staff it wants to move to Prague; and (7) in light of changing world conditions, RFE/RL is redefining its mission beyond simply supplying the news to assisting indigenous radio stations and preparing for the eventual termination of U.S. government support by becoming involved in new services and activities.

Recommendation for Executive Action

  1. Status: Closed - Not Implemented

    Comments: The Broadcasting Board of Governors has been established, held its first meeting, and assumed oversight of RFE/RL.

    Recommendation: Until the Broadcasting Board of Governors is established, BIB is still responsible for supplying RFE/RL policy direction. As such, the Chairman, BIB, should review and evaluate any RFE/RL plans to change or add to its mission to ensure that such plans are consistent with the legislation, do not duplicate or overlap existing programs, and are fully coordinated with other U.S.-funded organizations performing similar activities.

    Agency Affected: Board for International Broadcasting

 

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