A long-running jurisdictional dispute within the Radio Free Europe-Radio Liberty bureaucracy has been abruptly settled with the firing of RFE-RL Inc. vice president Ralph Walter and the resignation of his boss, Glenn W. Ferguson.
The dispute involved a squabble between RFE-RL Inc., which runs the two stations from offices in Munich, and the Board of International Broadcasting, set up by Congress in 1974 to oversee and fund the radio operation. Each had its own board of directors, which worked simultaneously but far from compatibly for years, feuding in particular over who has the right to hire and fire. Walter and Ferguson, who was president of RFE-RL and a member of its board, reportedly were in the center of that jurisdictional tiff.
Congress put the lid on the simmering conflict this year by passing legislation that in essence calls for the members of the Board of International Broadcasting to serve as the board of RFE-RL as well. The old RFE-RL board quickly dissolved itself, and within a week after the legislation was signed last month, board chairman Frank Shakespeare notified Ferguson that Walter was to be fired immediately. Ferguson was told he should stay on until the end of the year, but he quit instead.