Congressman pushes better TV/Radio Marti

Published June 24, 2007

MIAMI - Rep. Bill Delahunt interviewed Radio and TV Marti officials Saturday about improving the federally funded broadcast to Cuba.

Delahunt, D-Mass., also met with a group of mostly Democratic Cuban exiles, urging them to get more involved in public debates over the future of the Communist island.

The Marti broadcasts are inefficient and don't reach enough Cubans, Delahunt said. But he said Pedro Roig, who heads the department, appears committed to improving them.

Asked why a representative from Boston is so passionate about U.S.-Cuban policy, Delahunt responded, "Because I'm Irish." He described the joy he felt at seeing peace come to Northern Ireland and said he hoped to see the same for Cuba.

Earlier this week, a draft report from the State Department circulated by supporters of the Marti stations concluded the broadcasts were getting better and outlined more than a dozen recommendations to improve journalistic standards, security and content.

Carlos Saladrigas, co-chairman of the Cuba Study Group, a coalition of business leaders, attended a luncheon with Delahunt. The Republican said he wants to see the broadcasts reach Cuba with programming the people there will want to watch.

Congress approved $33-million for the Office of Cuba Broadcasting's budget, including $5-million a year for a plane to broadcast TV Marti to the island.