Phil Peters on Wednesday told a House subcommittee why it makes no sense to continue funding TV Marti, which has not developed an audience in Cuba despite at least $190 million in tax dollars spent over 19 years. Peters said:
TV Marti "has proven utterly ineffective," Peters said.
TV Marti has been broadcast from balloons floating in the air over Florida, from satellites in outer space, and now from an airplane that flies figure eights in U.S. airspace south of the Florida Keys.
Nineteen years of effort have not overcome Cuba’s jamming. I don’t think it’s possible to find a broadcast engineer who will explain how a television signal that originates more than 50 miles from its audience, can ever overcome jammers that are located amid the target audience. We cannot repeal the laws of physics.
Or, it could have paid for nearly a million low-cost laptops for Cuban children.
Peters recalled that Ronald Reagan promoted exchanges with the Soviet Union in 1984. Reagan said:
Civilized people everywhere have a stake in keeping contacts, communication, and creativity as broad, deep, and free as possible. The way governments can best promote contacts among people is by not standing in the way.Peters' arguments are convincing. It'll be interesting to see whether the government continues funding TV Marti.
TV Marti does not seem to have an audience. It's a station that no one watches. So why spend all the money on it?Whatever the cost, TV Marti is symptom of a bloated government. Once you start a program, its managers immediately looks for ways to justify its existence. They protect it. They defend it. They build armor around it.
It becomes an institution. People stop questioning whether it even works. And, even more astonishing, cutting the program begins to have political costs. It's ridiculous. It's part of the reason why our federal government is a big, fat, self-perpetuating, money-gobbling machine.