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Digital Archive International History Declassified

July 15, 1960


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    Report from the head of the Department of Agitation and Propaganda of the Central Committee of the CPSU detailing the shortcomings of Soviet broadcast media in countering Western broadcasts. The document is noteworthy for its criticism of the poor distribution of Soviet newscasts in the Eastern part of the USSR, and acknowledgment of how Western broadcasts have filled this void. An interesting point is made on the habit of adapting Soviet-made receivers to capture Western shortwave broadcasts.
    "CC CPSU Report, 'Measures to Vigorously Counteract Hostile Radio Propaganda Directed at the Soviet Population'," July 15, 1960, History and Public Policy Program Digital Archive, CPSU Central Committee Archives, TsKhSD reel 1.1005/17, Fond 89, Perechen’ 46, Delo 14. Copy in Hoover Archives. Obtained by Anatol Shmelev. Translated by Gary Goldberg.
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Measures to Vigorously Counteract Hostile Radio Propaganda Directed at the Soviet Population

The CC CPSU Department of Agitation and Propaganda for the Union Republics has examined the status of work to protect the Soviet population from hostile radio propaganda and the organization of radio broadcasts from Moscow, republic, and oblast capitals for Soviet listeners during the broadcast of foreign radio stations to the Soviet Union.

At the present time the total duration of hostile programming directed at the Soviet population is 50 hours a day on various radio stations and languages, of which 40 are in Russian. Voice of America alone broadcasts 16 hours and 30 minutes of programming for the USSR, including eight hours in Russian, two hours in Ukrainian, one and a half hours each in Lithuanian, Latvian, and Estonian, and one hour in Armenian and Georgian. The total BBC programming to the USSR in Russian has been reduced. At the present time it is two hours a day.

In September 1959, blanket jamming of the Voice of America was halted, followed by that of the BBC in March of this year. Only anti-Soviet and slanderous materials [in the broadcasts] are now jammed. In the first months, of Voice of America programming on average no more than three to five percent was jammed. American propaganda to the USSR concentrated most of its attention on trying to convince Soviet people of the superiority of the American way of life, and that the capitalist system is supposedly built on freedom and a concern for human welfare. The tone of radio broadcasts in the first months was outwardly benevolent, even ingratiating.

The total amount of anti-Soviet materials in Voice of America programming increased continuously beginning in March of this year, and therefore 25-30% of it was jammed in March and April, and 75-95% in May. In recent months Voice of America has been broadcasting anti-Soviet materials somewhat less, and therefore an average of 40-60% of their programming is being jammed.

BBC broadcasts fewer slanderous materials than Voice of America and therefore the percentage of jamming of its programming is considerably less. Recently, 5-20% of BBC programming has been jammed. The amount of programming to the USSR has been reduced in connection with the cessation of blanket jamming of BBC in the spring of this year, and broadcasts in the languages of the peoples of the USSR other than Russian have ceased. As a rule, in order to win listener popularity BBC broadcasts materials in an outwardly benevolent tone and therefore often presents some events of international life [in a different way] than Voice of America.

At the present time there are up to 20 million radios in the Soviet Union capable of receiving foreign radio stations. It is difficult to draw a clear picture of how many people in the USSR listen to foreign radio stations but there is circumstantial data which indicates a certain interest in foreign radio stations.

It was established in March of this year that in Tajikistan they listen to foreign radio stations not only in apartments but also in public places (teahouses, etc.), primarily because of the low level of republican broadcasting. The CC CPSU has especially directed the attention of the Tajikistan Central Committee to these facts.

The alteration of radios to listen to foreign radio stations has taken on massive proportions in Georgia, Azerbaijan, and in Perm, Moscow, Lugansk, and other oblasts. For 250 rubles, war invalids who know radio equipment, and some amateur radio operators, will install a shortwave band on radios in the population’s possession, starting with the 10-meter[band]. One can receive only foreign radio stations on these wavelengths. Even in Moscow, in GUM and other department stores, people without an occupation approach those buying a receiver with a proposal to install an additional shortwave band in the radio.

In conversations with the CC CPSU Department of Propaganda and Agitation, the chairmen of the Uzbek, Lvov, Odessa, Tomsk, and other radio committees have confirmed that there are cases of regular listening to Voice of America and BBC programming where they live. Questions put to lecturers and speakers, and also letters to the Central Committee, Radio Committee, and other organizations, are evidence of this.

As has been established by an inspection, the organization of radio broadcasts from Moscow and also from republican, kray, and oblast capitals does not help divert interest from foreign radio stations. For example, at the present time Soviet radio broadcasting is organized so that in the morning and especially in the evening hours the population of the eastern regions of the USSR, from Chita to the Volga region, is essentially left without our radio information about what happened during the day in the country and abroad. In Chita the last edition of radio information is broadcast at 2000 local time. It consists only of reports about life in the oblast, and the population of the Transbaïkal does not receive any information by radio from Moscow during the evening hours. The evening edition of Poslednie Izvestiya [Latest News] broadcast from Moscow at 1900 is received in Chita at 0100 local time and the population does not listen to it. The Voice of America broadcasts programming for the regions of the Far East and Siberia at the very same time, at 1600 Moscow time, or 2200 Chita time.

Irkutsk, Krasnoyarsk, Novosibirsk, Omsk, Sverdlovsk, Chelyabinsk, Kurgan, Perm, Ufa, and other [cities] are in the same situation. Regions of the Urals listen to the evening edition of the Latest News from Moscow at 2100 local time, but the night edition of the Latest News from Moscow is received in the Urals at 0030 when the population is already asleep. Local information in Sverdlovsk, Chelyabinsk, and Kurgan is broadcast at 1800-1900 and consists only of reports about the life of their oblast. Thus the population of the Urals, Siberia, and other eastern regions of the Soviet Union remain without our radio information in the evening and can only find out about events in the USSR and foreign countries by radio from Voice of America and BBC broadcasts.

Making use of this, the Voice of America has restructured its broadcasts in Russian so that programs which attract attention with new information are regularly broadcast to the Soviet Union. For example, in the morning hours, bearing in mind that Moscow Radio broadcasts the Latest News at 0600, 0700, 0800, and 0900, the Voice of America broadcasts at 0530, 0630, 0730, and 0930 so that Soviet listeners can also receive American information. In the evening hours, the Voice of America broadcasts half an hour of programming in Russian every hour from 1800 to 0200.

The primary content of a Voice of America broadcast is a brief tendentious description of the main events in the USSR and foreign countries calculated to attract the listener’s attention with the speed and freshness of information and commentary on current events.

The State Committee on Radio and Television Broadcasting and many local Party bodies have not restructured their broadcasting so that listeners can be enticed away from foreign radio stations by varied, interesting programs. During hours when the Voice of America and BBC broadcasts are aired, national and local radio broadcasting make do mainly with discussions of little interest, programs targeted to industrial and agricultural workers, and mediocre concerts.

After halting blanket jamming of Voice of America and BBC, many oblast and kray committees and the Central Committees of the Communist Parties of the union republics grew lax in their attitudes to the question of combating hostile radio propaganda; for example, not one oblast committee nor CC of a union republic raised the question of changing the procedure for broadcasting information via radio, in particular to the eastern regions of the country.

In order to organize active countermeasures against hostile radio propaganda and to best protect the population from it we consider it necessary to immediately charge the state Committee for Radio and Television Broadcasting and the USSR Ministry of Communications with introducing special radio broadcasts from Moscow in the evening hours for the Eastern regions of the country no later than 1 August of this year, and in the morning hours beginning on 1 October of this year, providing in them the broadcast of a 20-25-minute edition of the Latest News each hour. In the opinion of the ministry of Communications and the state Committee for Radio and Television Broadcasting, the technical resources can be found by using existing radio stations.

At the same time it is advisable to charge the Ministry of Communications and the Radio Committee [sic], assisted by the CC CPSU Department of Agitation and Propaganda and the Committee for State Security, with investigating the possibility of using individual powerful jamming stations for radio broadcasting. Since October 1959 the amount of hostile radio propaganda to the USSR has been reduced by more than half: the Baïkal, Kavkaz, and other radio centers have ceased operation, the amount of BBC broadcasts has been reduced, etc. In light of this, several stations engaged in jamming could be used for broadcasting, which would improve audibility.

Local Party bodies and the state Committee for Radio and Television Broadcasting should also be charged with reexamining the schedule of national and local broadcasting, and the question of making greater practical usage of radio stations during broadcasts of the Voice of America and BBC, within a month, with the aim of providing programming during these hours which enjoy greater popularity with the population.

The question of specific measures to organize active countermeasures against hostile radio propaganda has been tentatively examined in the CC CPSU Department of Agitation and Propaganda with the involvement of managers of the State Committee for Radio and Television Broadcasting, a number of republican and oblast radio committees, and also representatives of the USSR Ministry of Communications and the USSR Committee for State Security.

A draft CC CPSU decree concerning measures to vigorously counteract hostile radio propaganda is attached.

The adoption of a decision on this question will facilitate bringing the questions of radio broadcasting and the struggle against hostile radio propaganda to the attention of local Party bodies.

Chief of the CC CPSU Department of
Agitation and Propaganda for Union
Republics [signature] L. Ilychev

Chief of a sector of the Department [signature] G. Kazakov

15 July 1960


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