For more than two decades, the U.S. government has been broadcasting to Cuba to break the Cuban government's information blockade and promote democracy in Cuba. Over this period, questions have been raised regarding the quality and effectiveness of these broadcasts. GAO was asked to examine (1) the Office of Cuba Broadcasting's (OCB) broadcasting approach and what is known about its audience; (2) how the Broadcasting Board of Governors (BBG)--which oversees U.S. government broadcasting--and OCB ensure compliance with journalistic principles; (3) steps taken to ensure adherence to domestic and international broadcasting laws, agreements, and standards; and (4) steps BBG and OCB have taken to address management challenges. GAO analyzed documentation related to strategic planning, audience research, oversight, and operations and interviewed officials from BBG, BBG's International Broadcasting Bureau (IBB), OCB, State, and other agencies.
Recommendations for Executive Action
|U.S. Agency for Global Media||1. To assist decisionmakers and improve OCB's strategy, the Broadcasting Board of Governors should conduct an analysis of the relative success and return on investment of broadcasting to Cuba, showing the cost, nature of the audience, and challenges--such as jamming and competition--related to each of OCB's transmission methods. The analysis should also include comprehensive information regarding the media environment in Cuba to better understand the extent to which OCB broadcasts are attractive to Cubans.|
|U.S. Agency for Global Media||2. To assist decisionmakers and improve OCB's strategy, the Broadcasting Board of Governors should coordinate the sharing of information among U.S. agencies and grantees regarding audience research relating to Radio and TV Marti.|
|U.S. Agency for Global Media||3. To improve OCB operations, the Broadcasting Board of Governors should direct IBB to enhance guidance and training for analysts performing program reviews.|
|U.S. Agency for Global Media||4. To improve OCB operations, the Board of Governors should direct OCB to provide training to OCB staff regarding journalistic standards.|
|U.S. Agency for Global Media||5. To improve OCB operations, the Board of Governors should direct IBB to develop guidance and take steps to ensure that political and other inappropriate advertisements are not shown during OCB broadcasts.|
|U.S. Agency for Global Media||6. To improve OCB operations, the Board of Governors should direct OCB to establish formal mechanisms for disseminating information to and obtaining views from employees to help improve communication and morale.|