Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty

Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty
RFE/RL official logo
RFE/RL Broadcast Region 2009
Abbreviation RFE/RL
Motto Free Media in Unfree Societies
Formation 1949 (Radio Free Europe), 1953 (Radio Liberty), 1976 (merger)
Type private, non-profit Sec 501(c)3 corporation
Purpose Broadcast Media
Headquarters Prague Broadcast Center
Location
Official language English; programs are also available in Albanian, Armenian, Arabic, Avar, Azerbaijani, Bashkir, Bosnian, Belarusian, Chechen, Circassian, Crimean Tatar, Dari, Georgian, Kazakh, Kyrgyz, Macedonian, Montenegrin, Pashto, Persian, Romanian, Russian, Serbian, Tajik, Tatar, Turkmen, Ukrainian, Uzbek
Interim Managers John Giambalvo, Nenad Pejic (since February 28, 2014);[1] Jeffrey Shell is Chair of RFE/RL's corporate board (since October 2013).[2]
Parent organization Broadcasting Board of Governors
Budget $92,100,000 (FY 13)
Staff 487
Website http://www.rferl.org

Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty (RFE/RL) is a broadcasting organization that provides news, information, and analysis to countries in Eastern Europe, Central Asia, and the Middle East "where the free flow of information is either banned by government authorities or not fully developed".[3] RFE/RL is supervised by the Broadcasting Board of Governors, a bi-partisan federal agency overseeing all U.S. international broadcasting services.[4]

They were founded as an anti-communist news source in 1949 by the National Committee for a Free Europe, as part of a large-scale Psychological Operation during the Cold War. RFE/RL received funds from the Central Intelligence Agency until 1972.[5] During the earliest years of Radio Free Europe's existence, the CIA and the U.S. Department of State issued broad policy directives, and a system evolved where broadcast policy was determined through negotiation among the CIA, the U.S. State Department, and RFE staff.[6]

A report by RFE/RL about the death of a student during clashes with riot police is said to have contributed to the overthrow of the communist government of Czechoslovakia in 1989.

RFE/RL was headquartered at Englischer Garten in Munich, Germany, from 1949 to 1995. In 1995, the headquarters were moved to Prague in the Czech Republic. European operations have been significantly reduced since the end of the Cold War. In addition to the headquarters, the service maintains 20 local bureaus in countries throughout their broadcast region, as well as a corporate office in Washington, D.C. RFE/RL broadcasts in 28 languages[7] to 21 countries[8] including Armenia, Russia, Iran, Afghanistan, Pakistan, and Iraq.[9]

Contents

  • Early history 1
    • Radio Free Europe 1.1
    • Radio Liberty 1.2
  • Cold War years 2
    • Radio Free Europe 2.1
      • Hungary 2.1.1
      • Romania 2.1.2
      • 1981 RFE/RL Munich bombing 2.1.3
      • Czechoslovakia 2.1.4
    • Jamming 2.2
    • United States 2.3
      • Funding 2.3.1
  • The 1980s and the fall of communism 3
  • After the fall of communism 4
  • Comparison 5
  • See also 6
  • References 7
  • Further reading 8
  • External links 9

Early history

Radio Free Europe

Radio Free Europe was created and grew in its early years through the efforts of the New York City in 1949. The committee was composed of an "A list" of powerful U.S. citizens including former ambassador and first NCFE chairman Joseph Grew; Reader's Digest owner Dewitt Wallace; former diplomat and the co-founder of Public Opinion Quarterly Dewitt Clinton Poole; and prominent New York investment banker Frank Altschul.[10]

Radio Free Europe received widespread public support from Eisenhower's "Crusade for Freedom" campaign.[11] In 1950, over 16 million Americans signed Eisenhower’s ‘Freedom Scrolls’ on a publicity trip to over 20 U.S. cities and contributed $1,317,000 to the expansion of RFE.[12]

The NCFE's mission was to support the refugees and provide them with a useful outlet for their opinions and creativity while increasing exposure to the modern world.[13] The NCFE divided its program into three parts: exile relations, radio, and American contacts.[10] Although exile relations were initially its first priority, Radio Free Europe (RFE) became the NCFE's greatest legacy.

The United States funded a long list of projects to counter the Communist appeal among intellectuals in Europe and the developing world.[14] RFE was developed out of a belief that the Cold War would eventually be fought by political rather than military means.[15] American policymakers such as John Foster Dulles acknowledged that the Cold War was essentially a war of ideas. The implementation of surrogate radio stations was a key part of the greater psychological war effort.[12]

RFE was modeled after Radio in the American Sector (RIAS) a U.S. government-sponsored radio service initially intended for Germans living in the American sector of Berlin (but more widely listened to in East Germany).[16] Staffed almost entirely by Germans with minimal U.S. supervision, the station provided free media to German listeners.

Newly constructed building of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty in Prague-Hagibor.

In January 1950 the NCFE obtained a transmitter base at