Volume #14 - 1096.|
EUROPE, THE SOVIET UNION AND THE MIDDLE EAST
April 19th, 1948|
A meeting was held Friday, April 16, at 3.00 p.m. in Room 205 of the East Block. The following were present:
L.B. Pearson, Under-Secretary of Stale for External Affairs
A. DISSEMINATION OF INFORMATION IN COUNTRIES DOMINATED BY COMMUNIST RÉGIMES
Mr. Pearson stated that in view of the existing international situation, it is now necessary to examine whether steps should be taken to disseminate information concerning Canada in communist dominated countries and to ensure that such information is presented in a suitable form, e.g., in line with the general objectives of our external policy. For instance, the C.B.C. should not give the impression, through their broadcasts to Czechoslovakia, that Canada is prepared to continue normal trade relations with that country under their present régime.
2. It seems clear that the only means which is now available to disseminate information in the countries wider reference is, for all practical purposes, the international service of the C.B.C. Facilities for the distribution of films or printed material there are negligible. The question arises, however, whether there would be a large enough audience for C.B.C. broadcasts in these countries. It was agreed that the missions in Washington and London should endeavour to obtain from the B.B.C.28 and the F.C.C.29 reports on jamming, the estimated number of listeners to foreign broadcasts in these countries. It may be that if the number of listeners is small, it would be preferable to concentrate our efforts on preparing broadcasts for friendly or marginal countries like Italy or Sweden.
3. If it is decided that broadcasts are to be directed systematically to communist controlled countries, close arrangements will have to be worked out with the C.B.C. so that their broadcasts are properly related to our policy objectives. This can only be done with the approval and the cooperation of the C.B.C. which is under no compulsion to accept advice tendered by this Department.
4. Mr. Dunton agreed that such liaison between the C.B.C. (1.5.) and External Affairs would be desirable. It was felt that while the Department could not undertake the actual drafting of scripts, cooperation could best be effected if the Department were to prepare for the international service guidance notes on matters of policy and on the interpretation of questions of current interest. No attempt should be made, however, to edit the scripts. C.B.C. writers and editors are specialists in their field and provided guidance is given to them in time on matters of policy, they should be left to deal with implementation in terms of their broadcasting technique.
5. In drafting these general guidance notes, Mr. Pearson suggested that the following principles might be taken into account:
(a) nothing should be done or said which might lead people in communist controlled countries to believe that Canada approves of their government;
(h) every opportunity should be used to give encouragement to the democratic elements;
(c) great care will have to be taken to avoid giving the governments of these countries valid grounds for protests, as technically Canada is on friendly terms with them.
6. Mr. Dunton reported that the C.B.C. had been giving some thought recently to the setting up of a small intelligence unit. If guidance notes prepared in the Department were accompanied by information material on conditions in these countries,. the unit could make good use of this material. This would improve the value of the C.B.C. broadcasts and build up abroad their reputation for accuracy.
7. It was agreed that our missions in communist controlled countries should be consulted as to the general policy to be followed in preparing broadcasts. Their advice is also to be sought on the special interests of the groups which it is desired. to reach in these countries.
8. The Department, in order to keep the guidance notes up to date and to ensure their usefulness as well as to check on their implementation, should receive the. texts of the broadcasts. As some C.B.C. editors now prepare their scripts in foreign languages, translations are not always available. Mr. Dunton thought that if Miss Sullivan were assigned to the unit he mentioned above, she could check the scripts from the policy standpoint. It was agreed, however, that translations should be made available if possible
Mr. Pearson suggested that Mr. Nemec, the former Czech Minister, might be invited to prepare talks. The scripts would, of course, be submitted in advance. Mr. Nemec understands that this would be necessary.
In conversation with Mr. Pearson, Mr. Nemec reported that the U.S.S.R. in their propaganda picture themselves as the protectors of the Czechs against the Germans. As the Czechs are concerned about a future German aggression, this line of propaganda is very effective. Mr. Pearson thought that Mr. Nemec could explain very usefully that no one in Canada or in the western democracies intends to allow Germany to threaten again her neighbours.
It has been reported that at present the only Czech language newspaper in Canada is communist controlled. It was suggested that the Chamber of Commerce or some such organisation might be advised to interest itself in helping to establish a truly democratic Czech newspaper or in reviewing the one which suspended publication shortly before the coup in Prague. Such a newspaper would, in addition, provide useful material for broadcasts to Czechoslovakia.
3. At present the Czech editor on the C.B.C. (LS.) programmes writes his scripts in the Czech language. While there is no question as to his loyalty, to ensure that his programmes conform to Canadian external policy, it would be advisable to arrange for English translations of these scripts. Mr. Dunton undertook to look into this matter.
C. DECISIONSThe Canadian missions in London and Washington are to be requested to obtain reports on jamming, estimated radio audiences in communist controlled countries.
2. The Canadian missions in communist controlled countries (U.S.S.R., Poland, Yugoslavia) are to be requested to give their views on the advisability of directing broadcasts to their respective countries and as to the lines which might usefully be followed in preparing these broadcasts if it is considered advisable to undertake them.
3. The Department of External Affairs is to prepare for the C.B.C. (LS.) guidance notes on current developments on matters of foreign policy. These notes are to be supplemented by such information material as can be released.
4. The Canadian Chamber of Commerce is to be requested through appropriate channels to assist in the establishment of a Czech language newspaper which would be completely outside communist influence or control.
5. Mr. Nemec is to be invited to prepare talks for the C.B.C. (I.S.).
28British Broadcasting Corporation.
29 Federal Communications Commission.