Radio Free Europe this week is taking an important evolutionary step in serving its listeners in Poland and the Czech Republic.
In 1989 and 1990, RFE opened its first news bureaus in Central and Eastern Europe to bring its program closer to its listeners.
Now, for the first time in its 42 year history, Radio Free Europe's Polish and Czech programs will originate entirely from their home countries, from studios in Warsaw and Prague respectively.
Beginning on Monday, June 20, all four hours of RFE's daily Polish program — from 0600 to 0800 and 2100 to 2300 Hours — are being produced in Warsaw. RFE's programs are broadcast under an agreement on Polish Radio's Fourth Program.
As of June 30, RFE's Polish and Czech operations in Munich will formally cease, as new operations in Warsaw and Prague take responsibility for continued RFE programming.
RFE's Polish programs are now being produced by a new, independent, non-commercial U.S. corporation operating in Warsaw and called RWE, Inc. (Radio Wolna Europa) It is headed by Mr. Peter Mroczyk, until recently the director of RFE's Polish Service. RWE, Inc. is supplying Polish programs to Radio Free Europe under contract. A similar organization has been established in Prague.
The creation of an independent corporation for Polish broadcasting has been authorized by the Board of Directors of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty — itself a private, non-commercial U.S. corporation funded by the American Congress. Members of the Board are appointed by the President of the United States.
RWE will operate under American supervision. RWE is governed by a Board of Directors drawn from RFE/RL's own Board. Members of the RWE Board of Directors are Mr. Daniel A. Mica, a former member of the U.S. Congress; Mr. Kenneth Tomlinson, a former director of the Voice of America and the worldwide editor-in-chief of Reader's Digest magazine; and Mr. Lane Kirkland, President of the AFL-CIO, the leading American trade union organization.
These changes result from new legislation passed this spring by the U.S. Congress and signed by President Clinton in April.
- 2 -
The Congress has ordered the continuation of RFE/RL, but with sharply reduced public funding, from about $200 million this year, to about $75 million beginning in October, 1995.
Congress has also ordered RFE/RL to seek ways to privatize — though not necessarily to commercialize — some of its operations. As a first step, RFE/RL's Polish and Czech broadcasting are re-establishing themselves in Warsaw and Prague respectively.
These changes mark an evolutionary step in RFE's long and continuing history of service to Poland that began with the first broadcast from Munich on May 3, 1952. As a partnership between Americans and Poles, RFE has contributed through the years to every phase of Poland's historic struggle for freedom and democracy.
After 1989, many in the United States called for the immediate end of RFE as a "cold war relic." The democratic leaders of Poland, and the Polish audience, disagreed, and asked President's Bush and Clinton to continue. RFE opened a bureau in Warsaw in 1990 and began working with talented young journalists in Poland, who provided an increasing share of programming.
Now, RFE's Polish broadcasting is coming home.
The new Polish organization will continue to use RFE/RL's worldwide news and research services to provide Polish listeners with accurate news and impartial analysis of developments in Poland, the region and around the world. It will be entirely funded by the American Congress for the next 15 months.
Its future thereafter will be decided by Poles in Poland, not least among them its listeners. It is Radio Free Europe's hope and expectation that RWE will become a permanent feature of Poland's media landscape — a public service broadcaster preserving the high journalistic quality, civic values and independence that RFE has long represented.
We believe the Polish Service of Radio Free Europe, and all those who have contributed to it over many years, could have no finer legacy.