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Cuba Play TV: Broadcasting With The Enemy

If there were any reciprocity by the regime in Cuba, a U.S. company’s effort to start broadcasting Cuban television in the United States would not be much of big deal. If people want to pay to watch communist television, with programs produced by state sponsor of terrorism, so be it. But why can’t we do the same in to Cuba an broadcast U.S. shows and newscasts? It’s a rhetorical question and you know the answer.

Late last year a Miami-based company, Olympusat, announced the launch of a new network that would broadcast “carefully-selected content, free of any political affiliation or ideological influence from the Cuban government.” Really? Olympusat’s statement is propaganda. The Cuban regime has a Ministry of the Arts that controls all television and artistic work. When you disagree with their rules they warn you, beat you, imprison you and, if all else fails, you will be exiled or worse. Consider this recent article in the Oregon Daily Emerald: “Artists put Cuba’s painful history of suppression on display with new exhibit.”

Cuban punk rocker Gorki Águila's music videos will never be broadcast on Cuban television. Águila spent four years in jail on trumped up drug possession charges but, upon his release, continued to criticize the government with his music. There are many more like him in Cuba.

Olympusat is owned by Ocean Communications that, according to corporate materials, is the  “largest independent distributor of cable networks with programming contracts and inventory totaling more than 60 million homes to date.” An interesting side note, Ocean’s Executive Vice President, Chuck Mohler, used to work on Capitol Hill for House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) before Boehner became Speaker. Their corporate offices are located in West Palm Beach, in Rep. Alcee Hasting’s Congressional District.

When I was growing up in South Florida, one would shudder at things like this. Today, Cuba is a full-time market with scores of South Florida businesses, some run by people loyal to the regime, that sell everything from cell phones, clothing, to food, and other items that people take to Cuba when visiting “family.” Adding broadcast media to the mix was to be expected. Does not make it right though and it only helps the regime and goes against U.S. policy, law and regulations.

There is a big exception in the Cuban Assets Control Regulations (CACR) for informational materials, however, it takes a real liberal reading of the law to allow for-profit programming to be sold to a U.S. company by Cuba for broadcast in the United States. What? Did you think the Communist Party of Cuba would do this for free? Collectivism only goes so far amigos. This sale of services clearly falls under the side of prohibited activities, however, the National Security Council, the State Department, and others in the Obama Administration found a creative legal loophole and authorized the activity.

Out of sight and out of mind, no one really cares about these things these days. But U.S. taxpayers should, because if anything goes wrong with this deal, and it likely will, U.S. taxpayers will be forced to underwrite the losses. As far as Olympusat, it has become a facilitator of Cuba’s propaganda arm. They will call it freedom of expression, but it is making it easier for the regime to repress its people. It is as simple as that. And, most importantly, the Obama Administration continues to seek rapprochement with the regime. That, too, will fail.

Here is a novel thought. Now that the Cuban regime will be receiving money for its television programming, maybe the Treasury Department’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) can seize a portion of some or all of these monies and set them aside to begin compensating U.S. citizens that are owed billions of dollars by the Cuban regime for debts, claims, and judgements.

 

 

  • Peter Kane

    Your idea of having the Treasury Department’s Office of Foreign Assets Control seize the payments contracted with the Cuban Government for the broadcasting rights of Cuba Play TV should be enforced immediately and they should include CABLEVISION of New York, company that started broadcasting the above mentioned station on October of 2011.

    I have change my name because I currently work for this company and I am afraid of retaliation.

    Very respectfully yours, Peter

  • Thank you “Mr. Kane” for your comments. U.S. policy toward Cuba needs to be enforced as the Congress intended, and as the law requires. There are provisions in our law and policy that focus on “support for the Cuban people,” and that is what the Cuba Play TV effort is all about.

    The U.S. Government has a series of claims against Cuba that need to be addressed, and there are many more coming, likely in the billions of dollars – U.S. taxpayers are being sent to the back of the lone. This needs to change.

    If U.S. companies are going to receive an increasing number of Cuban government monies, our government must take a closer look at these funds, maybe impose User Fees, as a cost for doing business with a State Sponsor of Terrorism, and use these proceeds to start a fund to cover the growing number of claims against the Cuban regime.

  • If people in the United States could see Cuban television, they’d be surprised at how many films and TV series from the United States are presented on Cuban TV.
    From Disney cartoons to feature films, and US dramatic shows like HOUSE, CSI and many others, they’re all regular features on Cuban TV. US entertainment options are quite popular in Cuba, where those not put on television are legally sold to the public via bootleg CDs and DVDs.

    One difference is that there’s no commercial advertising on Cuban TV.

    Since nearly everyone living in the United States is denied the freedom to travel to Cuba, why should anyone object to people in the United States having a chance to see what Cubans see?

    What is there to be afraid of? People in the United States learning about Fidel Castro’s latest musings on the moringa tree and the mulberry bush?

  • Walter, putting aside the issue of whether or not it is good policy to allow the Cuban government access to the U.S. airwaves, how much money from royalties would the Cuban government make from these broadcasts? Would the Cuban government allow reciprocity, that is, broadcasts of U.S. news and other programming, without any conditions?

  • Pingback: Broadcasting for the Enemy, Revisited | The Poblete DC Dispatches()

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