Instituto Cubano de Radio y Television (ICRT)

The media with the largest footprint in Cuba are the radio and television channels that operate as part of the Cuban Institute for Radio and Television (Instituto Cubano de Radio y Televisión, ICRT), a state broadcaster with more than 13,000 employees. Radio Habana was one of the first outlets of the institute, founded in 1961. The following year, through Law 1030, the government established Instituto Cubano de Radiodifusión, which changed its name to the current one in 1976. ICRT runs Televisión Cubana with nine channels (Cubavisión, focused on generalist programming; Tele Rebelde, focused on sports; Canal Caribe focused on news, documentaries and science and cultural programs; Canal Habana with programs including telenovelas, documentaries, news and music; Canal Clave, fully devoted to music; two educational channels, a channel focused on children and one airing globally), and Radio Cubana, a radio network that runs some 100 stations, six of which have nationwide coverage and one, Radio Habana Cuba, focused on outside audiences.

Media assets

Television: Televisión Cubana (Cubavisión, Tele Rebelde, Canal Caribe, Canal Habana, Cubavisión Internacional, Canal Clave, Canal Educativo, Canal Educativo 2, Multivisión)

Radio: Radio Cubana (Radio Rebelde, Radio Progreso, Radio Taíno, Radio Reloj, CMBF Radio Musical Nacional, Radio Enciclopedia, Radio Havana Cuba)

State Media Matrix Typology: State-Controlled (SC)

Ownership and governance

ICRT is tightly controlled by the government. The president of ICRT, Alfonso Noya Martínez, is a member of the government (Council of Ministers). The director of TV Cubana is Waldo Ramírez Ribera and the head of Radio Cubana is Onelio Castillo Corder, both government appointees.

In summer 2021, the Cuban government announced the creation of a new institution, the Institute of Information and Social Communication, which was supposed to replace the ICRT. Some observers referred to the new institution, whose tasks are to design the communication policy of the Cuban government, as the Ministry of Truth. However, by now, it’s not clear what the functions of the new institution are. ICRT employees do not know either how their work will be affected by the rise of the new institution.

Source of funding and budget

All the funds used by ICRT come from the government. In some cases, the funds go into financing channels from other countries. For example, the budget of Canal Educativo 2 is used to fund part of the programs of Tele Sur (a project of the Venezuelan government). The government does not release information about the subsidies allocated to ICRT.

Editorial independence

The state fully controls and dictates the editorial line of all the outlets run by ICRT. The mission of the institute is to “manage, execute and control the application of the Policy of the State and Government through the activities of the radio and television.”

According to Article 55 of the Cuban Constitution, the media are “socialist property of the entire people.” The state, according to the Constitution, establishes the principles for the organization and functioning of all the media in the country. ICRT’s outlets are constantly framing dissidents and people protesting against the regime as “criminal actors.” Prior to the adoption of an amended Constitution (in February 2019), the Cuban television ran a series of reports that accused of “subversion” some people who were critical of the constitution. Such propagandistic reports are common in the content aired by ICRT’s outlets.

There is no statute and no independent assessment mechanism to validate the independence of ICRT’s media outlets.

August 2023