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Statement About Proposed Legislation Authorizing Continued Government Support of Radio Free Europe and Radio Liberty

May 10, 1972

UNDER Public Law 92-264, which I signed on March 30, 1972, grants in support of Radio Free Europe and Radio Liberty were authorized through the end of fiscal year 1972.

The decision to continue Government support for these radios was approved by large majorities in Congress and reflects the judgment that has been expressed overwhelmingly by newspapers throughout this country and by leading citizens in all walks of life that Radio Free Europe and Radio Liberty continue to perform a unique and valuable service. As I stated in a recent letter to the chairman of the Radio Free Europe Fund:

"...we have followed closely the work of RFE and are satisfied that it continues to serve a fundamental national interest."

I also said that:

"...the free flow of information and ideas among nations is indispensable to more normal relations between East and West and to better prospects for an enduring peace."

I have therefore asked the Secretary of State to submit today a bill which would continue Government support to the radios through fiscal year 1975. As with the fiscal year 1972 authorization, this bill would make the grants to the radios through the Secretary of State under such terms and conditions he deems appropriate.

A number of different views have been expressed in Congress as to how the radios might best be funded for the future. No consensus on this important matter has emerged. The House version of the fiscal year 1972 authorization and Senate Resolution 272 make clear that majorities in both Houses believe this should be given further study before a definitive solution is adopted.

To this end, I plan to appoint a Presidential study commission 1 with instructions to render its report and recommendations by February 28, 1973, so that the Administration and Congress can take them into consideration in formulating authorizing legislation for fiscal year 1974. In making its study, the Commission will be particularly concerned to consult exhaustively with Members of Congress.

1A White House announcement of the establishment and membership of the Commission on International Radio Broadcasting was released on August 10, 1972, and is printed in the Weekly Compilation of Presidential Documents (vol. 8, p. 1221).

In undertaking this task, the Commission will have the benefit and will take full account of the in-depth studies of each radio that were prepared by the Congressional Research Service at the request of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, together with companion studies recently completed by the General Accounting Office. Two subsequent studies by the Congressional Research Service-one a survey and analysis of the available options with respect to future funding methods and the other an examination of the foreign policy aspects of these broadcasting operations--will also materially assist the Commission.

It is evident that the choice of the method or mechanism for future funding of the radios must depend upon a proper perception of the relationship of those operations to the national interest and specifically to this Nation's foreign policy objectives. In my view, that relationship exists for one fundamental reason, but one reason only: Namely, that it has always been and must always be part of our national purpose to promote free, responsible communication among nations, not just at the government level but at all levels. Thus, these radios are not spokesmen for American official policy--that role belongs in broadcasting to the Voice of America. Rather, they are expressions of our profound conviction that a responsible, independent, and free press plays an indispensable part in the social and political processes that look to better understanding and more effective cooperation, not only within a nation, but also among nations.

It is this conception, I believe, that lies at the base of the article of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights which declares it to be the right of everyone "to seek, receive, and impart information and ideas through any media and regardless of frontiers." International broadcasting is of course only a part of that process; our international exchange programs are another important part.

The Commission will render a great service by undertaking a critical examination of this subject and by providing the best possible basis for determining the methods by which support for these valuable organizations can be maintained without impairment to the professional independence upon which their present effectiveness depends.

While this Commission produces its recommendations, it is essential that the authorization providing support to Radio Free Europe and Radio Liberty be extended for fiscal year 1973. While I continue to believe that the Department of State is not the appropriate channel for grants to the two radios, I believe that discussion of the alternatives should be deferred until we have the benefit of the recommendations of the Commission. I therefore strongly recommend that the bill which we are submitting to Congress for a 1973 authorization be given favorable consideration before the beginning of the new fiscal year.

Richard Nixon, Statement About Proposed Legislation Authorizing Continued Government Support of Radio Free Europe and Radio Liberty Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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