841.4061 Motion Pictures/106b: Telegram

The Secretary of State to the Chargé in the United Kingdom (Johnson)

69. Your 118, February 10, 7 p.m. Please present the following note to the Foreign Office:

“On numerous occasions since July 1937 the British Government has been informed that my Government attaches great importance to the British restrictions affecting American motion pictures and that the treatment of American motion pictures in Great Britain would of necessity be a subject for inclusion in the forthcoming trade agreement negotiations. It had therefore been hoped that the British Government would avoid taking any definite action on the proposed film legislation until the two Governments could have an opportunity for a full and frank discussion of this whole question. On February 2 [Page 19]my Government made the direct suggestion that action be held in abeyance possibly by the enactment of interim legislation until the arrival in London of Ambassador Kennedy, who could, immediately following his official reception, enter into discussions with the appropriate British authorities. My Government felt that because of Mr. Kennedy’s experience in and intimate knowledge of the motion picture business this suggestion offered a real possibility of a satisfactory solution of this question in conjunction with the trade agreement negotiations. Accordingly, it is greatly regretted that the British Government could not see its way clear to accept this suggestion.

In its memorandum of February 9 the British Government pointed out that it “intends, subject to the overriding authority of Parliament to secure certain amendments during later stages of the progress of the bill which it is thought will go a long way towards meeting the important wishes of the United States renters.” The amendments suggested in the memorandum of February 9 do not, however, cover the entire scope of the points which my Government considers important. My Government considers that in order that it may be satisfactory, the pending legislation should be so drawn as to take into consideration the following points:

(Here quote a paraphrase of the 14 points listed in the Department’s No. 13, January 12, 2 p.m.)

In its preparation for the forthcoming trade agreement negotiations, my Government has given careful study and consideration to the motion picture question, and considers that the foregoing 14 points are reasonable and fair. Since the British Government finds that it cannot delay the enactment of the proposed legislation until after full opportunity has been had for discussion of this question during the trade agreement negotiations, my Government feels that the legislation to be enacted should be so drawn as to meet adequately the foregoing points.

I am confident that the British Government will understand that an alteration to the disadvantage of the United States on the very eve of trade agreement negotiations in the status of so important a product as motion pictures could hardly fail to affect the attitude of my Government toward concessions to be offered certain important British exports to the United States.”