American Radio's Place in a New Europe

Contrary to your assertion that a move by Radio Free Europe and Radio Liberty from Munich to Prague is part of a plan by the White House and Congress, this idea has little backing in Washington.

The notion that moving the Munich-based radios to Prague might be worthwhile was spawned by three RFE/RL managers and accepted by the station's oversight body, the Board for International Broadcasting (BIB), whose members assumed it would be less expensive to operate in the Czech Republic than in Germany. Since the cost of living in Prague rose by more than 20 percent last year, this was at best a dubious assumption. Because of this BIB decision, I resigned as president of RFE/RL in January. I had held the position only three months, having served during the previous seven years as executive vice president.

I objected not only to the questionable financing of the Prague project, but also to the likelihood, now confirmed, that many if not most of RFE/RL's key employees would not or could not move to Prague.

In a January survey of 22 senior RFE/RL managers, only four favored a move to Prague. Moreover, the station's unions are unanimously opposed to the plan. Their objections have been ignored.

Morale at the Munich headquarters is abysmal, primarily because of the insistence by a handful of radio executives and the BIB that the staff be transplanted. All other important issues, such as responsible approaches to staff reductions to meet a diminished budget, have been subordinated to the Prague undertaking.

The impetus for this was the Czech Republic's offer to house RFE/RL rent-free. By accepting such a gift, RFE/RL's journalistic integrity would be severely compromised. William W. Marsh, Arlington, Va.

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