740.00119 Council/8–2146: Telegram

The Acting Secretary of State to the Secretary of State, at Paris80


4272. Secdel 719. For Secretary Byrnes from Benton.81 Re Russian broadcasts.82 Assume you have available copy Clay’s cable to War Department number CC–1697 of August 12, and Murphy’s 1911 of August 13 on this subject.83 Both cables restate Clay’s political objections to use of Munich transmitters for State Department broadcasts to Russia as inconsistent with the spirit of quadripartite government.84 This objection of Clay’s was previously reviewed by Staff Committee and not found sufficiently persuasive. I feel this project of such vital importance that Clay should be requested to facilitate it in accordance with his statement of willingness to do so despite recording his objections.

In accordance with your earlier expression of views which are confirmed in your telegram 3963 of August 11 quoting Sarnoff’s memorandum,85 we are thus moving ahead on all technical details anticipating [Page 688] acceptance by Clay of Munich project. Forrestal, Acheson and others in State Department agree.

The following message to General Clay has been discussed with Secretary Patterson at meeting with Acheson and Forrestal. Patterson agreed to relay it, after stating that he felt Clay should be supported. I am holding for 48 hours on chance you may want to comment further.

“To Clay from Patterson—Reference your CC–1697, State Department has reviewed your reservations and appreciates your willingness-nonetheless to make available two Munich transmitters. State Department is thus developing plans, staff and equipment for Munich relays.

State Department representatives for this project will be dispatched Berlin as soon as possible. Technical operating personnel will be attached to Munich Consulate.

Re your discussion with Sarnoff,86 telegram from Secretary Byrnes after talking with Sarnoff in Paris,87 quotes Sarnoff memorandum urging Munich relays as absolute technical necessity for effective coverage.

Censorship questions would not appear to arise since all State Department programs will originate New York. No programs of any kind will be produced or created in Munich. Transmitters are for boosting signal strength of programs.

Department and advisory committee here have thoroughly reviewed format of broadcasts to eliminate any material which could logically lead to retaliatory action.

Your cooperation in fulfillment of this program is greatly appreciated by State Department. Ambassador Smith will notify Russians in Moscow of State Department’s intentions and any reaction from them will be reported to you.88 Secretary Patterson supported your position but has yielded to State Department’s views in line with urgency of the need. Patterson to Clay.”

General Sarnoff not yet returned and I want to discuss with him his conversation with you and accompanying memo. I agree with him that it is desirable to develop better signals and programs within [Page 689] Germany. I hope you can find time to discuss this need with General Clay and advise me further how State Department can cooperate with him in proposed Sarnoff studies. I shall report further to you, when I’ve seen Sarnoff. [Benton.]

  1. The Secretary of State was in Paris as Chairman of the United States Delegation to the Paris Peace Conference.
  2. Assistant Secretary of State William Benton.
  3. Reference is to a projected Department of State program for information broadcasts in the Russian language to the Soviet Union, making use of transmitters located in Munich.
  4. Neither printed.
  5. General Clay felt, according to telegram 1911, August 13, from Berlin, that a radio station such as the one contemplated in Munich would be subject to rules of censorship approved by the Control Council (811.42700 (R)/8–1346).
  6. Telegram 3063 not printed. The memorandum to Secretary Byrnes from Mr. David Sarnoff, president of RCA, dealt with American broadcasting both in Germany and to the Soviet Union. It urged that a study be undertaken to determine the technical facilities required to provide American broadcasting services equal or superior to those furnished the Germans from the Soviet Zone. Mr. Sarnoff’s memorandum also proposed that a high powered broadcasting station be set up in Berlin, that the power of the existing station in Munich be increased and linked with the proposed station in Berlin, and that the Munich station be equipped with short wave facilities to enable it to re-transmit to the Soviet Union Russian language programs originating in the United States. (811.42700(R)/8–1146.
  7. Telegram 1911, August 11, from Berlin, reported on General Clay’s “… recent conversations with Sarnoff of RCA who stated that direct broadcasting: from the US to the USSR is technically feasible, that equipment is available, and that it is merely a question of expenditure of funds. Sarnoff indicated that an expense of approximately two million dollars would be involved.” (811.42700(R)/8–1346.
  8. Reference is to telegram 3963; see footnote 85, p. 687.
  9. Telegram 4344, August 23, to Secretary Byrnes at Paris, reported that this cable had been sent to General Clay with the next to the last sentence revised; to read as follows: “Ambassador Smith will notify Russians in Moscow of State Department’s intention shortly before broadcasts are started and any reaction from them will be reported to you at that time.” (740.00119 Council/8–2346.

    In telegram 3276, August 22, from Moscow, repeated to Paris for Ambassador Smith, then at the Paris Peace Conference, the Chargé” (Durbrow) expressed the belief that possible Soviet objections should not be permitted to interfere with American plans. He stated that it was the Embassy’s feeling that the Soviet Union would not have valid grounds for objecting to relaying of programs originating in New York, particularly since there was no reason why the U.S.S.R. should not have similar relaying rights (811.42700(R)/8–2246).