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What is TV Martí?

TV Martí is the US-funded broadcasting channel aimed at Cuba. It operates 24 hours per day, 7 days per week, although the Cuban government is easily able to block the broadcast.

TV Martí has a radio counterpart called Radio Martí, both of which cost about $27 million a year.

TV/Radio Martí is meant to provide information for Cubans on the island, who don't have much access to the Internet and must rely on state-controlled media.

As of August 2004, the US began to broadcast the TV/Radio signal from a C-130 military plane. The flights are supposed to allow the broadcasts to penetrate Cuban airwaves, and replace the old system: a transmitter fixed on a helium-filled balloon tethered 10,000 feet above the Florida Keys. The Cuban government is said to use Soviet-era helicopters packed with jamming equipment to continue disrupting the signal.

The broadcasts have been widely criticized as being biased, slanted, and unreliable, prone to misinformation and exaggerations, and of constantly blending opinion with news. The Cubans call it political propaganda.


May 17, 1960
Radio Swan, an anti-Castro radio station created by the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) goes on the air as part of the Eisenhower-approved plan for covert operations. By summer, several clandestine and CIA-funded stations in the U.S. join Radio Swan in broadcasting to Cuba.

Using Soviet-supplied equipment, Cuba becomes the first nation in the Western Hemisphere to jam radio broadcasts. The first apparent target being the anti-Castro stations in the U.S.

May 20, 1985
RADIO MARTÍ, backed by Reagan Republicans and Cuban hard-liners, begins to broadcast news and information from the U.S. to Cuba. [In protest of these broadcasts, Cuba cancels the existing immigration agreement with the U.S.]

March 23, 1990
TV Martí, an anti-Castro, U.S.-taxpayer-funded station is launched. The signal is immediately jammed by the Cuban government.

August, 2004
The US begins to broadcast the TV signal from a C-130 military plane.

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