A/MS files, lot 54 D 291, “VOA & IBS

The Administrator of the United States International Information Administration (Compton) to Representative John Taber 1

My Dear Mr. Taber : I have received and I appreciate your letter of January 22, 1953.2 In this letter you question the advisability of proceeding further with the installation of the so-called “Baker East” and “Baker West” projects.

[Page 1657]

Within the scope of my authority and my instructions from the Secretary of State, I will cooperate with any effort which the Appropriations Committee may undertake toward a review by the Congress of the authorities, instructions and appropriations pertaining to these projects. I am sure that you would expect me to do that.

The two stations, Baker East and Baker West, at each of which there will be two one megawatt transmitters, are an integral and essential part of a global radio broadcasting network known as the Ring Plan. These two plants will, when completed, be the primary feeder stations to our existing overseas stations and those to be completed within the present fiscal year.

This Administration, within the past few months, has employed an independent engineering management firm to survey all of the domestic transmitting facilities of the International Broadcasting Service. It was made with a view to eliminating ineffective equipment and establishing new operating procedures and standards. The report recommended that consideration be given to the rehabilitation of some facilities and the elimination of others. We now have these projects under engineering consideration.

At this time it is planned to build only two of the six domestic megawatt plants included in the original plan. Overseas only 8 or 9 at most are under construction or serious consideration out of an original plan which called for fourteen. Qualified radio advisors have informed me that it would be unwise to eliminate the two megawatt plants now being constructed in this country. It is not possible to obtain this superpower with the equipment presently available or by any changes which could be made economically in existing plants.

A majority of the existing domestic facilities were built before and during World War II. The commercial stations that were taken over during the war were largely intended for experimental purposes and broadcasts to relatively few selected world areas. They were not intended as permanent, high quality components of a broadcast network. For this reason I have viewed the installations at Baker East and Baker West as the minimum augmentation to our existing facilities to put the United States in a position to deliver an adequate radio signal to strategic areas, especially to areas behind the Iron Curtain which we will reach by radio if we reach them at all.

Contracts have been let for the construction of these two plants and work is under way. Suspension of construction would involve considerable expense; cancellation of these contracts would, of course, entail heavy liquidation costs and damages.

[Page 1658]

I have forwarded to the Secretary of State a copy of your letter of January 22. I am advised that Mr. Lourie, the Under Secretary-Designate for Administration, also has been informed of your views in this matter.

As a matter of firm intention and practice, I have been able to establish a workable understanding and, I hope, a relation of mutual confidence with the Appropriations Subcommittee concerned in these matters. I am quite concerned if anything has occurred during my absence from the United States which would cause you to regard the administration of the International Information Service as having been unmindful or neglectful of its responsibilities. I hope that I may have opportunity at your convenience to correct any misunderstanding either on my own part or on the part of the Committee.

Sincerely yours,

Wilson Compton
  1. Copies to various offices and individuals within IIA and also to the Secretary of State; Thurman L. Barnard of the Office of the Secretary of State; Humelsine; George Gray, Special Assistant to the Assistant Secretary of State for Congressional Relations; and Donold Lourie, Under Secretary of State for Administration.
  2. Ante, p. 1654.