59. Memorandum From the President’s Assistant for National Security Affairs (Brzezinski) to the Director of the Office of Management and Budget (McIntyre)1


  • RFE/RL FY 1980 Budget

The Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty (RFE/RL) broadcasting operation, which is funded through the Board for International Broadcasting (BIB), is a key instrument for implementing our policies toward the Soviet Union and Eastern Europe, an important element in the President’s human rights program and a symbol of the permanent American commitment to free flow of information and ideas.

RFE/RL suffered in the early 1970’s from mismanagement and declining technical effectiveness. When the President approved 11 new 250–KW transmitters for this operation in March 1977, the basis was provided for a process of technical modernization and rejuvenation which has gained steady momentum. Germany recently gave approval for construction of four of the new transmitters and plans for construction of seven in Portugal have already been developed. We were lucky this year in being able to fill senior management positions in Munich with outstanding men (Ferguson and Walter) who are working harmoniously with John Gronouski, BIB Chairman, who gives an enormous amount of his time and energy to this job.

By the time the new transmitters are ready to go on the air in 1981, these men expect to have created:

  • • A vigorous broadcasting staff with a preponderance of new, young people
  • • Expanded research in support of broadcasts
  • • More efficient and rational administration, and
  • • Modernized studio and programming techniques.

The new transmitters will double the power of RFE/RL; other improvements should double the effectiveness.

One special aspect of this effort derives from the fact that the SCC recently approved a broad program for increasing U.S. Government [Page 195] knowledge of the non-Russian peoples of the Soviet Union whose rapid rate of population increase will soon make them the majority. RFE/RL has a unique capacity to contribute in this area and one of our objectives is to improve both research and broadcasting by recruiting more young people of non-Russian nationalities and training them well.

I know that Gronouski and Ferguson have been explaining their approach to your senior staff and making a strong case for the modest budget increases they feel they need in FY 1980 if we are to get full value out of the increased transmitter power of RFE/RL. This operation has been in existence for a long time, but it should not be looked upon as a routine feature of our foreign information program. I am satisfied that the BIB, under Gronouski, is doing a more careful job than ever before of examining broadcasting requirements. What the BIB is asking for RFE/RL is modest, but a 7–8% increase in FY 1980 is necessary to enable them to do the job we have set for them.

Zbigniew Brzezinski
  1. Source: Carter Library, National Security Affairs, Brzezinski Material, Subject File, Box 9, Board for International Broadcasting (RFE, RL, VOA): 1/78–4/79. Confidential. Drafted by Henze and forwarded to Brzezinski for signature under a September 19 covering memorandum together with a detailed brief on the RFE/RL FY 1980 budget. (Carter Library, National Security Affairs, Brzezinski Material, Brzezinski Office File, Subject Chron File, Box 112, Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty/Voice of America: 1978)