President Loosening Restrictions on Tech Sales to Cuba

As part of the change in relations with Cuba announced by the Obama Administration Wednesday (Dec. 17), the President said he would allow tech companies to sell telecommunications equipment to the country.

"I’ve authorized increased telecommunications connections between the United States and Cuba," the President said in outlining a host of changes. "Businesses will be able to sell goods that enable Cubans to communicate with the United States and other countries."

“We commend President Obama for taking steps designed to promote the emergence of a democratic, prosperous, and stable Cuba," said Consumer Electronics Association president Gary Shapiro. "Specifically, we welcome and are particularly excited about the new measures allowing the commercial export and sales of consumer communications devices, software hardware and services. These efforts will provide exciting new market opportunities for our members and parallel our advocacy for expanded free trade globally. More, these measures will increase Cubans’ access to the benefits consumer communications technology brings to the world - eliminating the borders of time and geographic location to bridge global communities, democratize access to information and entertainment content, and provide new hope for promoting democracy and human rights."

A Broadcasting Board of Governors spokesperson said that the U.S.-backed TV and Radio Marti news outlets, government-backed outlets that provide news and information to a country whose own press is not free, were busy working on what was a "huge" news story for them.

TV and Radio Marti provide news to Cuba via satellite television, shortwave, AM radio, flash drives, emails, DVDs, and SMS text messages.

"Their role is as important as ever," said the spokesperson, including providing news to and about the Cuban audience and being a forum for the exchange of ideas. Radio Marti covered President Obama’s speech with Spanish translation on its noon newscast along with highlights of a speech by Cuba’s Raul Castro. TV Marti also broke into regular programming to cover the speech.

John Eggerton

Contributing editor John Eggerton has been an editor and/or writer on media regulation, legislation and policy for over four decades, including covering the FCC, FTC, Congress, the major media trade associations, and the federal courts. In addition to Multichannel News and Broadcasting + Cable, his work has appeared in Radio World, TV Technology, TV Fax, This Week in Consumer Electronics, Variety and the Encyclopedia Britannica.