24. Memorandum From Paul Henze of the National Security Council Staff to the Associate Press Secretary (Schecter)1


  • President’s Report to Congress on International Broadcasting2

The following is for use in briefing the press or responding to questions on this report.

The report is not an annual requirement. It was asked for last year by the Congress because a number of questions had arisen about implications of longer-range developments in the international broadcasting field. The report was prepared during the final weeks of the Ford Administration but not transmitted because it was felt that the Carter administration should have the opportunity to review its recom [Page 60] mendations independently. This has been done during recent weeks with participation of the State Department, OMB, USIA and the Board for International Broadcasting. All of these agencies were essentially in agreement on the questions dealt with in the report.

The report concerns the operations of the Voice of America and the two separate radios that broadcast to Eastern Europe and the USSR: Radio Free Europe and Radio Liberty. (Though these radios retain their separate identity, they have been merged in corporate structure and many aspects of their operations are carried out jointly.)

VOA is operated by USIA with policy guidance from the State Department. RFE/RL operates under the sponsorship of the Board for International Broadcasting, which was set up by PL 93–129,3 enacted on 19 October 1973. The Board is a U.S. Government entity, consisting of a Chairman and five members and a staff who are full-time civil servants.

RFE/RL, in turn, is managed by a Board of Directors. Chairman of this Board is John Hayes, of the Washington Post-Newsweek group (other members on attached list at Tab A).4

The President’s Report to Congress concludes that VOA and RFE/RL are making optimum use of their present facilities but that they need more transmitter power to do their job effectively over the next few years. The report recommends a program for building new transmitters which will entail modest increases in financial outlays over the next three years. The exact sums which will be requested are not yet known; needs will probably be in the range of $30,000,000. The radios and OMB will be studying this question. Since funds will be needed over at least the next three years, they will probably not all be requested in this year’s supplemental budget request. The OMB is working on this supplemental budget request now.

Considering the rate at which most other categories of U.S. Government expenditures have been rising, these radios have been operating very economically. Even with expansion and modernization, they will be costing only a tiny fraction of the sums we spent on defense and military and economic aid abroad.

The President strongly supports the radios and considers them important instruments through which the U.S. Government and the American people assert their strong interest in human rights and the free flow of information.

While expansion of Radio Free Europe and Radio Liberty’s transmitters will affect only broadcasting to Eastern Europe and the USSR, [Page 61] expansion of VOA’s transmitter power will enable it to reach listeners in many other parts of the world, particularly the lesser developed countries, where expansion of broadcasting by Communist-dominated countries has given them considerable lead over the Free World in recent years.

The report does not deal with the location of VOA within the U.S. Government. The White House is aware that there has been debate on this subject and considers debate and discussion healthy. For the time being there is no plan to shift VOA from the control of USIA.

The report also does not deal with personnel questions on which there has been some recent press speculation. The President is considering nominees for the Chairmanship of the Board for International Broadcasting. David Abshire, who has been chairman for the past three years, has resigned. The President’s choice for this position will be announced shortly. (NOTE: Actually the President has decided to nominate John A. Gronouski, but the nomination has not yet been publicly announced, though it is now in process—it is conceivable that this announcement5 could be made now but it should be checked out with Hamilton Jordan’s office.)

At least two vacancies on the Board for International Broadcasting are anticipated; nominees for these are under consideration. Many names have been suggested, but choices have not yet been made. Professor William Griffith of MIT (who was attacked in the press last week) is still under consideration for membership on the Board, for he has excellent qualifications for this kind of appointment.

  1. Source: Carter Library, National Security Affairs, Staff Material, Horn/Special (Henze), Box 1, Chron File: 3/77. No classification marking.
  2. See footnote 3, Document 14.
  3. See footnote 3, Document 11.
  4. Not found attached.
  5. On June 8, the White House released a statement indicating that the President would nominate Gronouski to be a member and chair of the Board of International Broadcasting for a term expiring on April 28, 1980. (Public Papers: Carter, 1977, Book I, pp. 1073–1074)