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UNITED STATES-U.S.S.R. EXCHANGES IN THE FIELD
(Statement prepared by the Department of State)
Soviet hesitancy and suspicion still prevent anything like a free flow of information. One field in which true exchanges are still primitive and lop-sided is that of television.
Soviet officials and visitors in the United States have always enjoyed the privilege of direct access to the public information media of this country, including television stations and networks, and have often solicited television time for the purpose of conveying Soviet viewpoints to the American public. Television stations and networks, with a sense for what is newsworthy or of audience interest, have been alert to the exploitation of Soviet personalities and visitors. It is usually difficult, if not impossible, to discern the fine line between appearances which have been arranged on Soviet initiative and those which have resulted from the desire of American television stations to diversify their own coverage.
This situation has put the United States at a decided disadvantage in endeavoring to gain reciprocity in the U.S.S.R. in this field. It is neither the role nor the privilege of the Department of State to restrict the access of American television to legitimate news and entertainment coverage. It is the role and responsibility of the Department, however, to endeavor to obtain more uncensored coverage of American subjects and personal appearances on Soviet television,
To achieve this end, the Department of State succeeded in negotiating into each of the four two-year Agreements on Exchanges with the U.S.S.R. a section providing for exchanges of television programs on a regular basis and according to certain technical specifications. Under these provisions of the Exchanges Agreements, the United States Information Agency has carefully pre pared a total of 28 Russian-language television films. A number of other television films on topical subjects have been provided to the U.S.S.R. through U.S. Government channels (for instance, John Glenn's space flight, President Kennedy's American University and United Nations General Assembly addresses of August and September, 1963 and his July 26, 1963, television talk on the nuclear test ban treaty, an interview with poet Robert Frost, and Danny Kaye's “report” on his rip to the U.S.S.R.). These films were not specially edited or voiced for Soviet audiences.
Unfortunately, only six of the 28 specially tailored programs prepared by the USIA have been televised in the U.S.S.R. without significant alteration. As far as has been ascertained, only two of the topical unedited films provided through Government channels have been televised there. (Parts of the film on President Kennedy's American University address were televised during Soviet corerage of the President's assassination and last rites. The Robert Frost interview was televised on October 6, 1962, shortly after the poet had been to the U.S.S.R., but Soviet editors failed to translate the Frost lines "Something there is that doesn't love a wall, that wants it down.")
The U.S.S.R., on the other hand, has not thus far seen fit to exploit to any extent the mechanism of the Agreement on Exchanges to gain U.S. television time. During the course of the four two-year Agreements, only five Soviet television programs have been submitted through the prescribed Government channel. None of these was dubbed into English and only one, a feature-length film on the composer Prokofiev, was found suitable for televising by U.S. stations to which these films were distributed.
Soviet disinterest in preparing special television materials for submission through official Channels may be explained by the U.S.S.R.'s success in gaining direct access to U.S. television screens. To cite only a few outstanding examples: Chairman Khrushchev received saturation U.S. television coverage during his 1959 tour of the United States. President Eisenhower's 1960 trip to the U.S.S.R. did not materialize and Vice President Nixon received only nominal television coverage when in the U.S.S.R. to open the United States National Exhibition in 1959. Khrushchev again received extensive coverage during his visit to the United Nations General Assembly in the Fall of 1960 and, for example, was interviewed for two hours by David Susskind. In June 1961 "Izvestia" editor Aleksei Adzhubei and Soviet Foreign Ministry Press Chief Mikhail Kharlamov appeared for an hour on NBC-TV in debate with White House Press Secretary Pierre Salinger and “New York Times” correspondent Harrison Salisbury. (Adzbubei failed to follow through in arranging for this debate to be televised in the U.S.S.R.) In addition, the Soviet Ambassador, various other Soviet diplomats, correspondents, scientists, and other visitors have been interviewed at length on U.S. television. Soviet cultural attractions, exhibitions, and professional visitors to this country have received considerable, but lesser television coverage.
It can be said that Soviet television has given adequate, if not comparable, ! coverage to U.S. cultural attractions and athletic competition in the U.S.S.R. and that it has televised an occasional American film. It has not, however, provided reciprocity for the extensive appearances of Soviet political figures in the United States. (In addition to the 1959 coverage on Vice President Nixon, already men. tioned, the only remotely comparable Soviet television coverage was also in that early period: invitations to Ambassador Thompson to appear briefly on MOSCOW television on the eve of American Independence Day in 1958 and 1959, and the televising of a series of interviews by Soviet students of five American personalities—Mrs. Eleanor Roosevelt, Justice William 0. Douglas, Senator Allen J. Ellender, Secretary of Health, Education, and Welfare Marion D. Folsom and National Academy of Sciences President Detlev W. Bronk. These five interviews were, however, in direct reciprocity for a series of five interviews of Soviet personalities produced by NBC's program “Youth Wants to Know."
Repeated requests by the Department of State for the Soviet television authorities to grant reciprocal television time for the appearance of Soviet per: sonalities on United States television have either been rejected or ignored. Thus, a major objective of the United States in its program of exchanges with the U.S.S.R.—the free and reciprocal flow of information-still is a long way from achievement in the field of television. Under the new U.S.-U.S.S.R. Agreement on Exchanges a somewhat new approach will be used in order to explore possibilities for a fairer exchange in this field. USIA has, for the time being, abandoned the costly procedure of preparing tailored Russian-langauge programs for televising in the U.S.S.R. It will instead select television films which it will be difficult for Soviet officials to reject. These will be jointly reviewed and discussed before they are prepared in final form. The same procedure will obtain for Soviet television materials submitted under the Agreement. Parallel with this procedure, the Department of State will continue its efforts to obtain the cooperation of American television stations and networks in arranging ex. changes of television programs on every possible occasion and in insisting on "equal time” on Soviet television when they are approached by Soviet officials for appearances in this country.
The titles of these films are listed separately, together with the dates they were delivered to the U.S.S.R. and whether or not they were televised there.
APRIL 18, 1964.
List of Russian-language films prepared by USIA for televising in the U.S.S.R.
Newsreel No. 1..
January 1961. Newsreel No. 2.
-.do.. Kennedy Inauguration Documentary
do.. First Kennedy News Conference..
February 1961. Second Kennedy News Conference.
do Rehearsal for Tomorrow-Eastman School of Music
March 1961. Seventh Kennedy News Conference.
do. Eighth Kennedy News Conference..
April 1961. Shepard Space Flight.-
May 1961 Kennedy "Alliance for Progress" Speech
do.. Kennedy Speech to American Society of Nea spapers Editors.
do. Kennedy News Conference of May 5..
do. Small Town U.S.A...
October 1961 Music in the Forest-Interlochen, Michigan Music Camp. November 1961 Newsreels Nos. 3 and 4.
do.. Cowboy Legend...
do. High Places of the Mind-New England and American Thought.. July 1962. Newsreels Nos. 7 through 10.
September 1962. Education of Johnny Schnell--a Small Town Boy.
do. Some of Our Voices-Contemporary Cultural Currents in the U.8. August 1963. Press Conference U.S.A.-Martin Luther King