(WASHINGTON, D.C.) --- ^U.S. Senators Byron Dorgan (D-ND) and Ron Wyden (D-OR) asked the Senate Wednesday pull the plug on U.S. government television broadcasts to Cuba, broadcasts even the American government acknowledges Fidel Castro routinely jams and the Cuban people can’t see.^
Dorgan and Wyden called the TV Marti broadcasts a “complete and total waste of taxpayer’s dollars.” The transmissions will cost $21.1 million next year, but will reach virtually no one in Cuba.
Never-the-less, the Senate voted 35-65 to continue the four hour a day broadcasts.
Next year’s $21.1 million budget for the broadcasting effort includes $8 million for a new airplane from which to transmit the signal. The airplane would replace a hot air balloon, dubbed “Fat Albert”, which currently broadcasts the signal. Dorgan and Wyden noted there is no evidence an airplane will transmit TV Marti’s signal to Cuba any more effectively than transmitting from a hot air balloon.
The entire effort is a “colossal waste of taxpayer money,” Dorgan said. “It is absurd to spend $21.1 million to send TV signals to Cuba that no one sees. The only message we’re sending here is that we have little regard for taxpayer dollars. This is wasteful spending and it ought to end.”