811.42700 (R)/3–1647: Telegram

The Ambassador in the Soviet Union (Smith) to the Secretary of State


840. For Benton. ReDeptel 448, March 10.1 Content of broadcasts has distinctly improved and they are living up to policy outlined in your 426.1

I think you will be particularly interested in reactions in my 800, March 14.1

Following is comment which you may wish to use for background with the committee. On the other hand I do not feel that it is advisable for me to make any formal statement for release to press. Any formal statement of the effectiveness of our program might cause adverse repercussions here.

Voice of USA Russian language broadcast has distinctly improved since initial programs. However, programs are still in experimental stage; we are still carefully feeling our way. I know that the Dept will make further improvements as more information is obtained regarding reactions.

Although no publicity has been given to program in Soviet press or radio KCMA it is gratifying to learn that news of program has spread and that it is listened to not only in Moscow but also in outlying provincial cities.

Reception continues to be the problem. But I understand that efforts are being made by Dept State to improve transmission.2 Although reception now is not perfect, experiments with a medium strength Soviet radio purchased in a Moscow department store have proved that our programs even at present are understandable on radio sold to Soviet public.

There is no question in my mind that our Russian language news broadcasts are of great interest to Soviet listeners. We already have indications that this program has corrected certain misconceptions regarding USA. A continuation of this program will make a solid contribution to friendly understanding between American and Soviet people, which understanding is one essential basis for continuing peace. There is also no question that as soon as we have solved transmission [Page 546] difficulties to the extent that listening becomes relatively easy, we can command a large and extensive audience.3

BBC is listened to with the greatest interest all over the Soviet Union, and we can do as well. Do not overlook the important byproduct of these broadcasts to Russia which we get from the thousands of listeners in the satellite states on the Soviet periphery. In some respects this is even more important, as these people are more receptive, although not more anxious to learn of America than are the Russians.

  1. Not printed.
  2. Not printed.
  3. Not printed.
  4. Assistant Secretary of State for Public Affairs William Benton made a statement on March 29 about the considerably improved reception of Voice of America programs in the Soviet Union. Following experiments and investigations it was discovered that the antenna of one transmitter in Munich had been sabotaged, and this condition had been corrected on March 25. For text of this statement, see Department of State Bulletin, April 6, 1947, p. 624.
  5. After much discussion of contents and alternative times of presentation between the Department and the Embassy in the Soviet Union, near the end of the year three ½-hour programs were being broadcast to Moscow and the western portion of the Soviet Union at 9 p. m., 9:30 p. m., and midnight, Moscow time. A new broadcast to Vladivostok and the Maritime Province in eastern Siberia, at 9 p. m., Vladivostok time, was started on December 1. For the text of a press release of December 1, see Department of State Bulletin, December 14, 1947, p. 1196.