Courtesy Reuters

Radio as a Political Instrument

SIR JOHN SIMON, Chancellor of the Exchequer, announced in the House of Commons a year ago that the British Government had requested the British Broadcasting Corporation to inaugurate an overseas broadcasting service in foreign languages, and that the B. B. C., "fully realizing the issues," had decided to take appropriate action, including the construction of new short-wave transmitters. Inquiries made by His Majesty's representatives had shown, according to Sir John, that broadcasts in Spanish, Portuguese and Arabic were especially desirable. This step was taken after a long period of hesitation; and it follows -- by accident or design -- closely on the heels of our own National Broadcasting Company's announcement of a worldwide short-wave service in six languages.

The fact is that the problem of broadcasting for foreign consumption has given government and radio officials on both sides of the Atlantic a great deal to think about in the last two or three years. Its implications for the future are immeasurably important. The two decisions cited above represent the first definite answer of the democratic nations to the political activity which has been carried on via the radio in the Fascist countries, just as British rearmament and the big navy program of the United States are answers to the rapidly expanding military machines of the aggressive dictators. The democratic countries have suddenly become aware that the radio is a weapon which they cannot neglect when planning to defend their national interests.


We in America entertain a good many misunderstandings concerning the structure of European broadcasting, for it differs radically from the organization of broadcasting on this side of the Atlantic. Generally speaking, broadcasting in Europe is run, or at least controlled, by the various governments. Private enterprise enters in only to a limited extent. Contrary to general belief, the reasons for this are by no means entirely sinister. In the European democracies the motives behind the establishment of government control were primarily, (a) the desire for an orderly and satisfactory

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