576 Washington/5–1646

Mr. E. K. Jett, Chairman of the United States Delegation, Second North American Regional Broadcasting Conference, to the Secretary of State


My Dear Mr. Secretary: Pursuant to your letter, File 1C, of January 31, 1946,47 designating me as Chairman of the United States Delegation to the Conference, there follows below a report on the principal activities and accomplishments of the Second North American Regional Broadcasting Conference which was held in Washington from February 4 to 25, 1946.


On December 13, 1937 there was signed at Havana, Cuba, a North American Regional Broadcasting Agreement, Treaty Series No. 962, between the United States, Canada, Cuba, the Dominican Republic, Haiti and Mexico, for the purpose of regulating and establishing principles governing the use of the standard broadcast band (550–1600 kc) [Page 738] in the North American region so that each country could make the most effective use thereof with the minimum technical interference between broadcast stations. The Agreement was subsequently adhered to by Newfoundland and the Bahama Islands.

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… The North American Regional Broadcasting Agreement and its supplementary document went into effect at 3:00 a.m. Eastern Standard Time, March 29, 1941 and by its terms will expire at the conclusion of five years from that date.

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… throughout the five years’ duration of the North American Regional Broadcasting Agreement, the Government of Cuba has constantly caused interference, frequently of a serious nature, by reason of its operating broadcasting stations in violation of the Agreement on numerous Class I-A clear channels assigned to the United States, its explanation being its desire to find some means of meeting its requirements which it claimed were not satisfactorily met by the Agreements to which it was a party.

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Work of the Conference

It is clear from the background given in the first part of this report that had it not been for the insistence of Cuba at the Rio Inter-American Radio Conference48 to obtain additional privileges on frequencies below 1000 kilocycles the present conference would not have been necessary. All of the other governments were prepared both at the time of the Rio Conference in September 1945 and at the convening of the Washington Conference on February 4, 1946 to agree to abide by the provisions of the Havana Treaty for a period of two years after its expiration on March 29, 1946. In short, it can be said that the Washington Conference was held almost entirely for the benefit of Cuba. This, however, came as no surprise since it was agreed at the Rio Inter-American Radio Conference that such a conference would be held in order that Cuba might obtain action on her proposals. This agreement was concurred in by all the countries.

Notwithstanding the position of Cuba our Delegation made every effort to obtain an agreement to maintain the status quo for another two years. Indeed, the United States Delegation submitted such a proposal on the opening day of the Conference (Document 2—Appendix [Page 739] IV49) but it soon became apparent that Cuba was determined to obtain certain concessions not consistent with the Agreement.

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It was, and still is, believed by the Delegation that to have failed to obtain an Agreement50 participated in by Cuba would have been to result in serious interference to United States and other broadcasting stations in the standard band with the great possibility of eventual chaos to the widespread disadvantage of the United States broadcasting industry and to the listening public throughout this country. The Delegation could not lightly disregard the wide-spread interests in the United States which would thus be seriously and adversely affected.

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E. K. Jett
  1. Not printed.
  2. The Third Inter-American Radio Conference, held at Rio de Janeiro, September 3–27, 1945. For an article on the accomplishments of the Conference, see Department of State Bulletin, November 4, 1945, p. 735.
  3. Not printed.
  4. For text of interim agreement signed February 25, 1946, see Department of State Treaties and Other International Acts Series No. 1553, or 60 Stat. (pt. 2) 1862. For summary statement on the Conference, see Department of State Bulletin, March 10, 1946, p. 376; for address by the Chief of the Telecommunications Division (De Wolf) before the closing session of the Conference, see ibid., p. 379.