Another big U.S. international broadcast facility will close soon.
Officials with the Broadcasting Board of Governors confirm that broadcasts from the Morocco Transmitting Station will cease in March, though no programs will be affected; other facilities will pick up those services.
The government expects to vacate the facility by the end of 2008, and it will be returned to the government of Morocco.
“The rising cost of operating the Morocco station prompted this decision,” Letitia King, chief of media relations for the International Broadcasting Bureau, told RW.
The facility includes about 2,000 acres of land with 80,000 square feet of buildings and 10 high-power (500 kW) shortwave transmitters. It carries U.S. government broadcasts from Voice of America, Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty and Radio Farda.
U.S. officials expect to save $3 million to $4 million a year; actual savings will depend on the cost of the new lease arrangements and other expenses related to continuing transmissions, she said.
There are 56 government employees there, including four U.S. citizens and 52 local employees. “The U.S. Government will honor its commitments to each of the Morocco Transmitting Station’s employees by providing fair and equitable treatment under the scope of the U.S. Embassy agreements,” King said; a memo to staff states that affected employees will receive severance compensation.
“The closing will not reduce the number of hours of radio programming currently broadcast by shortwave,” King continued. “All programs currently broadcast from the Morocco station will continue to be broadcast, either from other IBB facilities or through lease arrangements.”
As first reported by RW this summer, the International Broadcasting Bureau also recently closed a VOA shortwave facility in Delano, Calif. BBG continues to operate 11 transmission stations globally.
U.S. international broadcasting in Morocco started in 1949 with the Tangier Relay Station. The current facility is 18 miles southwest of Tangier and began broadcasting in 1993.
Plans for redeploying the transmitting equipment have not been finalized.