July 17, 2017

1946. CBS Appeals to Stalin Over Soviet Ban on Foreign News Broadcasts

Moscow Makes Radio Ban Permanent
Joseph Stalin, Winston Churchill, and Harry Truman meet at the Potsdam Conference in 1945 (source)
Article by Jack Gould in The New York Times, November 9, 1946:
CBS Urged Premier to Rescind Barrier to Correspondents of American Networks

The Columbia Broadcasting System appealed directly to Joseph Stalin yesterday to reverse the Russian government's denial of broadcasting facilities to the American network correspondents in Moscow. The fact that the correspondents had been silenced by the Soviet Union was first acknowledged by the networks on Thursday.

In a cable signed by Edward R. Murrow, network vice president, CBS advised Premier Stalin that it would withdraw its correspondent, Richard C. Hottelet, unless he could resume news broadcasts.

The American Broadcast Company sought the aid of Gen. Walter Bedell Smith, American Ambassador to Russia, in restoring short-wave relay facilities to the correspondents. In a cable to General Smith, Robert E. Kintner, vice president of the chain, said that the American broadcasts from Moscow had contributed to a better understanding between the United States and Russia.

NBC Maintains Silence

The National Broadcasting Company refrained from any formal comment on the international controversy, but was understood to be anxious to maintain representation in Moscow, even if its correspondents could not broadcast directly. The NBC correspondent, Robert Magidoff, also represents The Daily Telegraph of London.

CBS's action in cabling directly to Premier Stalin was believed to have been prompted by the success of several such direct appeals by newspaper correspondents. The text of the CBS cable follows:

"Our correspondent in Moscow, Richard C. Hottelet, advised us on Oct. 8 that facilities for broadcasting from Moscow had been withdrawn. Repeated efforts to secure reconsideration of this decision have been unavailing. It is our desire to report the news of Russia by radio, but the denial of facilities makes this impossible. Therefore, unless your Government's decision is reconsidered, we shall withdraw our correspondent forthwith."

Criticism of Book Cited

Meanwhile, CBS officials said they had not heard of any connection between Russia's institution of the radio ban on Oct. 7 and the publication forty-eight hours earlier of the book entitled "Behind the Iron Curtain," by George Moorad. Mr. Moorad, who was in Portland, Ore. yesterday, had represented CBS in Moscow during the winter of 1944-45.

In the book, Mr. Moorad had been sharply critical of the censorship regulations imposed on radio correspondents. Frank Mason, head of Fireside Press, Inc., which published the book, said that both Tass, the official Russian news agency, and the magazine Soviet Today had requested copies upon its publication. Mr. Mason is a former vice-president of NBC.
Article by Drew Middleton in The New York Times, November 20, 1946, pp. 1, 23:
Ban on Foreign Broadcasts Made Permanent by Moscow

MOSCOW, Nov. 19 — Radio broadcasting by foreign correspondents from Moscow has been formally abolished, according to a statement made tonight by the press department of the Foreign Office. The statement was handed to Richard Hottelet, Moscow correspondent of the Columbia Broadcasting System. Mr. Hottelet, as well as Edmund Stevens of the American Broadcasting Company and Robert Magidoff of the National Broadcasting Company have not been able to broadcast from Moscow since Oct. 8, when they were informed that there would no longer be time available for them on the Moscow radio for broadcasting to the United States.

Radio broadcasting by correspondents from Moscow was a "temporary measure," instituted because of communication difficulties during the war, the statement said. The restoration of "ordinary means of communication" and difficulties of finding time for news broadcasts to the United States contributed to the abolition of all these broadcasts, the statement said.

The text of the statement follows:

"In connection with your telegram of 8 Nov., 1946, concerning radio broadcasts from Moscow by your correspondent, Mr. Hottelet, the press department of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the U.S.S.R. has been charged by the chiefs of the Ministry to inform you of the following:

"One, that previously foreign correspondents did not have radio broadcasts from Moscow but sent their correspondence by telegraph.

"Two, during the war two or three correspondents were given the possibility, as a temporary measure, to transmit information by radio in connection with the fact that other means of communication were difficult because of the war.

"Three, recent cessation of these radio broadcasts means abolition of this temporary measure in the conditions of normal functioning of ordinary means of communication, and also provision of time for these radio broadcasts is difficult because of overburdening of radio stations.

"Correspondents who temporarily had the possibility of radio broadcasting may, if they want to, continue their work as before and send their correspondence in the usual manner as it was previously, before the war."

Both Mr. Stevens and Mr. Magidoff are employed by other news organizations, the former by The Christian Science Monitor, and the latter by The Exchange Telegraph. Mr. Hottelet has no other affiliation.

Statement Follows a Protest

The text of the statement by the press department of the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs was received last night by the Columbia Broadcasting System from its Moscow correspondent, Richard C. Hottelet.

"CBS is withholding further comment until it receives information regarding representations it understands are now being made by the United States State Department," a CBS spokesman said. He referred to a request made on Nov. 8 by CBS to the State Department to intervene with the Russian Government in an effort to obtain a reversal of its decision. On the same day Edward R. Murrow, CBS vice president, sent a cablegram of protest to Premier Joseph Stalin. The Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs statement was a reply to that cablegram.

Mr. Hottelet, in his cablegram to CBS, said the Russian statement was dated Nov. 19, bore no signature, and "was handed to me by Vassilienko, the acting chief of the press department of the Foreign Office."

"I asked whether this also specifically included radio telephone facilities," Mr. Hottelet continued. "He emphasized the first point, which states that correspondents before the war sent their messages by telegraph and he further pointed out to me that the last words specified a return to pre-war procedure."

The National and American Broadcasting Companies withheld comment on the Russian Government's action.