Politburo discussion of a report prepared for the Hungarian Politburo in1963 which concluded that current jamming efforts were ineffective. It provided two options for the Politburo: to maintain and redirect jamming, focusing it on RFE, or to end it entirely. Noteworthy is the assessment that the West has outstripped the Soviet bloc in terms of transmitters, and the assumption that ending jamming might be used as a bargaining chip to soften Western broadcasts.
October 1, 1963
Report to Hungarian Politburo on Jamming of Western Radio
Made in 4 copies
Report to the Politburo on jamming hostile radio stations
1. The governments of capitalist countries have been developing their radio propaganda that target other, especially socialist countries, to a significant degree. Year after year they invest huge amounts in installing new broadcasting stations and in improving the reception of their programs.
In 1959 the government of the United States used 85 stations with a total capacity of 2,000 kW to broadcast the programs of the Voice of America. By 1962, this capacity increased to 99 stations and 9,000 kW. Recently a new broadcasting station was opened with six 300 kW transmitters each. The construction of another six 250 kW and six 500 kW transmitters and 93 modern antennas is also underway.
According to the Information Agency of the government of the United States the Congress has again approved significant amounts for investment in the technical development of Voice of America. As part of this project the broadcasting stations in Western Europe will be modernized and expanded, including the broadcasting capacity of Radio Free Europe. A new radio station is being built on the island of Rhodes in Greece on which the government has already spent USD 40 million. In addition, the US government has made an effort—with success—to lease the free broadcasting capacity of other countries.
Though smaller in scope and size, the investment and development efforts of England, Western Germany and other capitalist countries in pursuit of the same goal should not be underestimated either. For instance, the English government has allocated GBP 4.5 million to improve the reception of the foreign language programs of the BBC.
2. At present there are 11 capitalist countries broadcasting programs to Hungary on 143 wavelengths altogether for 51 hours per day. Radio Free Europe broadcasts propaganda programs in Hungarian on 40 wavelengths. (See Supplement 1 [not translated]).
The largest number of wavelengths and the longest program times are used by the Voice of America and London. Radio Free Europe broadcasts programs in Hungarian on several wavelengths concurrently from early morning till midnight.
3. The foreign language programs of the People’s Republic of Hungary have not been improved since 1950—due to the lack of new stations. The Hungarian Radio and Television currently broadcasts programs in 9 foreign languages [handwritten footnote: app. 22 hours per day] through two 100 kW and one 135 kW medium wave stations. (See Supplement 2 [not translated].)
1. The jamming of propaganda programs targeting our country from capitalist countries was organized by the minister of Postal services in 1952. At the same time a radio-protection agreement was made between the Hungarian, the Soviet and the Romanian Postal services. (Today Romania is no longer part of this cooperation.)
The tasks related to the protection of Hungary from foreign radio programs is performed by the Central Telecommunications Office, while the stations are developed, run and maintained by the technical department of Hungarian Radio and Television. Both organizations are supervised by the Ministry of Transportation and Postal Services.
The Central Telecommunications Office carries out its function of protecting the country from hostile foreign radio programs by running so-called local jamming centers and with assistance from our allied countries. Thus it performs a dual task:
a. It oversees the work of the local jamming centers. These stations are installed in Budapest and Pécs. There are 22 stations at its disposal now, most of which have a capacity of 1 kW or smaller. Only one of them has a capacity of 15 kW, and the total capacity is 35 kW. The average monthly running time is 3,000 program hours.
b. It organizes and coordinates protection work with our allied countries. In this framework we receive assistance from the Soviet Union and Czechoslovakia amounting to 4,050 and 480 transmission hours respectively. On our part we transmit 4,330 hours to the Soviet Union and 714 hours to Czechoslovakia.
There are eight 15 kW stations and part of the capacity of one 100 kW station at our disposal to provide assistance to our allied countries. These stations are installed in Székesfehérvár, Diósd and Szolnok.
Except for the 100 kW station these transmitters are not capable of broadcasting radio programs and are thus used exclusively for jamming.
The technical condition of these stations, due to their strain and overuse, is not satisfactory, and some of them do not even meet essential safety requirements.
Protection is funded by the central budget, which costs HUF 40 million per year.
As part of the cooperation with our allied countries, the costs of transmitting are mutually invoiced by Hungary and the Soviet Union on the basis of an accepted tariff. There is no significant difference between the number of transmission hours broadcast by each Party. Still, there is a difference in the settlement of the accounts to the benefit of the Soviet Union that amounts to HUF 20 million per year [handwritten footnote: included in the above mentioned HUF 40 million] because the Soviets use stations with a bigger transmission capacity. At the moment our cooperation with Czechoslovakia does not include financial settlement of accounts.
2. The efficiency of jamming in the whole country is as follows: 30% between 0500-0900, 80% between 0900-1500, and 10% from 1500-0100. [Handwritten insertion: the efficiency of jamming changes from region to region. It is most efficient in Budapest and Pécs. It is quite efficient in the center of Budapest, but much less so in the outer districts.] The above percentage figures show that our protection work is not satisfactory at the moment. The foreign propaganda programs can be received in the whole country in the early morning and in the evening, when most people are at home, and even during the day people can easily find a wavelength that is not jammed. So listeners who know the program times and the wavelengths of these broadcasts can find a wavelength they can tune in on practically any time during the day.
Reasons for unsatisfactory performance:
– Unlike our allied countries, we have not developed our local jamming stations to the required extent. The existing transmitting stations are out-of-date and lack the required capacity. The antennas are also rather outdated.
– The assistance received from our allied states is restricted to certain periods of the day, especially during daytime.
– Lack of political direction. The programs are not jammed with a view to their political content. Thus, the programs of Radio Free Europe are jammed the least.
– As a result of significant investment and development, the propaganda programs of capitalist countries are broadcast by increasingly more powerful stations concurrently on several wavelengths.
Based on the above assessment of the situation it is time we revised the current practice of jamming foreign propaganda programs. Revision is justified by the following:
– As a result of the right policy confidence in the Party and the government has grown significantly, and the political atmosphere in the country is positive.
– The tone of state-owned capitalist radio programs has changed recently; they are no longer as sharp as they used to be.
– To our knowledge the Soviet Union has terminated the jamming of American and English state-owned radio stations.
– Due to the way in which radio waves are transmitted on the one hand, and to the significant development of radio stations by capitalist countries on the other, one hundred percent jamming is impossible, or else it would require investments that far exceed our present capabilities. (Based on the current situation, 80% efficiency of jamming in the morning and evening hours would require an investment of HUF 5-600 million.)
In our view the present international and domestic political situation makes it possible to terminate, partially or entirely, the jamming of foreign propaganda programs.
In the case of partial termination, the jamming of state-owned stations could be terminated. The existing jamming stations and the assistance received from our allies could then be devoted to a more effective jamming of the programs of Radio Free Europe and Patrol. [Handwritten insertion: in this way we could enhance the efficiency of jamming but it still would not result in any substantial improvement.]
Even in the case of full termination of jamming, we believe the jamming capacity should be maintained and put on reserve.
Since the Central Telecommunications Office is an administrative and executive body, political control and supervision should be made much more efficient and organized, for the Ministry of Transportation and Postal services is neither competent nor capable of attending to this task. [Handwritten insertion: Therefore state supervision concerning the jamming of foreign radio stations should be taken over by the Ministry of the Interior.]
In the interest of popularizing the results of our socialist development and cultural life it seems desirable to develop our foreign language radio programs and install stations with a much larger capacity, in accordance with our financial resources.
1. Alternative II (proposed by the Administrative Department of the Central Committee)
The present international and domestic situation makes it possible to partially terminate the jamming of foreign propaganda radio programs.
Therefore the Politburo orders the Minister of Transportation and Postal Services to terminate the jamming of state-owned stations broadcasting in Hungarian from capitalist countries. At the same time the Politburo orders the Minister to see to a more efficient jamming of the propaganda programs of Radio Free Europe and Patrol. The minister should conduct negotiations with our allied countries providing assistance in this matter concerning the exact transmission times and wavelengths of the jamming transmissions—as specified in the resolution—and include all the details in an inter-state agreement.
2. Alternative I (proposed by the Department of Industry and the Department of Propaganda of the Central Committee)
The present international and domestic situation makes it possible to fully terminate the jamming of foreign propaganda radio programs.
Therefore the Politburo orders the Minister of Transportation and Postal Services to terminate the jamming of stations broadcasting in Hungarian from capitalist countries. The minister should conduct negotiations with our allied countries providing assistance in this matter concerning the modification of cooperation in this matter—as specified in the resolution—and include all the details in an inter-State agreement.
3. The Minister of Transportation and Postal Services should ensure that the local jamming centers are put on reserve and maintained properly so that the technical facilities remain in running condition.
4. The task of supervising jamming activities should be transferred to the ministry of the interior as of January 1, 1964. The ministry of the interior should issue orders to start jamming a certain station, if the need arises, or to terminate jamming, as well as to make a decision as to what programs should be jammed and at what times.
[Illegible handwritten insertion]
5. After negotiating with the president of Hungarian Radio and Television, the Minister of Transportation and Postal Services should work out a proposal for the government to improve the technical background of our foreign language radio programs so that the results of our socialist development and cultural life can be popularized more effectively, especially in capitalist countries. [Handwritten insertion: the proposal should be submitted to the government by June 30, 1964.]
[Handwritten insertion: the Minister of Transportation and Postal Services and the Minister of the Interior should be made responsible for the execution of the above resolution.]
comrade Lajos Fehér
comrade János Pap
comrade István Kossa
comrade László Orbán
comrade Sándor Rácz
comrade István Szurdi
Budapest, October 1, 1963.
This report prepared for the Hungarian Politburo in 1963 concluded that current jamming efforts were ineffective. It provided two options for the Politburo: to maintain and redirect jamming, focusing it on RFE, or to end it entirely.
The History and Public Policy Program welcomes reuse of Digital Archive materials for research and educational purposes. Some documents may be subject to copyright, which is retained by the rights holders in accordance with US and international copyright laws. When possible, rights holders have been contacted for permission to reproduce their materials.
To enquire about this document's rights status or request permission for commercial use, please contact the History and Public Policy Program at [email protected].