Editorial Note

After some earlier sporadic attempts the continuous, intensified jamming of the informational and news programs broadcast by the Voice of America in the Russian and English languages by the Soviet Union was commenced in earnest on April 24, 1949. (See Foreign Relations, 1949, volume V, pages 609667, passim.) This situation continued unabated despite remonstrances by the United States, with occasionally one side or the other gaining slight, temporary advantages, until by the beginning of 1950 the Voice of America broadcasts were estimated to be at a level of 15 to 20 percent effectiveness.

Throughout 1950 the Department of State and other departments and agencies cooperated in efforts to overcome or circumvent the jamming of the programs of the Voice of America by all possible scientific methods. The best available technical research and practical recommendations on further measures which could be used to penetrate the jamming were studied arid applied. Better and more equipment was obtained; combined use of massed transmitters of other countries and the British Broadcasting Corporation to get broadcasts through the interference was instituted; and programs were rebroadcast and wave lengths slightly varied along with other ways to reach more possible listeners.

The United States Embassy in the Soviet Union had a “monitoring team” which sent back regular and frequent statistical reports on jamming intensity and the relative degree and quality of the reception of programs based upon observations in Moscow and from wherever else possible inside the Soviet Union. The location and the probable numbers of jamming equipment were sought. Not unnaturally, it became apparent that a better percentage of intelligible reception was available in regions more remote from large cities, particularly Moscow and Leningrad. Generally, however, there was not found any constant, clear reception of entire programs, mostly because of jamming with high, shrieking sounds, although some interference could be attributed to local atmospheric conditions and to the inability [Page 1075] of many radios of Russian manufacture to receive broadcasts requiring fine tuning.

A large number of reports, often quite technical in nature, relating to the jamming of the Voice of America broadcasts, the monitoring of reception, and consideration of means for the improvement of transmissions, are contained in the Department of State files, principally under 511.614. Some comments on the importance of the Voice of America in penetrating to the people of the Soviet Union despite colossal jamming by the Soviet Government were made by Foy D. Kohler, Chief of the Division of International Broadcasting, in Department of State Bulletin, March 20, 1950, pages 430–432, and by Edward W. Barrett, Assistant Secretary of State for Public Affairs, ibid., June 19, 1950, pages 992–995. For further documentation on the general policies and problems with respect to the Voice of America and the information policy of the United States toward the Soviet Union and Eastern Europe, see pages 261 ff.