The cold-war era finally ended for Radio Free Europe on Oct. 18 with the announcement that the United States broadcasting service will lay off more than half its employees by 1996 and may leave its Munich base.

The headquarters for the radio services that for four decades gave Eastern Europeans uncensored news with a decidedly anticommunist slant may leave its Munich headquarters because of high operating costs and is negotiating a possible move to Prague, says executive president Bill Marsh.

Washington is another possible relocation site, officials say.

``They're going to create a new and leaner entity,'' spokeswoman Melissa Fleming says.

Getting down from the current annual budget of $210 million to the $75 million mandated by President Clinton also will mean closing the radio's New York office and moving its research center out of Munich, one of the world's most expensive cities.

The staff will be cut from 1,530 to 705 by Sept. 31, 1995, Ms. Fleming says. The first 300 jobs will be eliminated by the end of next June.

Radio Liberty, which broadcasts to Russia and other former Soviet republics, will be unaffected by the cuts and consolidation, Fleming says. This was expected, given the continued political instability in the region.

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