Heard around the world 

18 August 2016 tbs.pm/9200

From the BBC Year-book for 1931.


BBC1931At 11 a.m. on Tuesday, January 21st, His Majesty the King officially opened the London Naval Conference of 1930 in the House of Lords. The B.B.C. was able to make arrangements which resulted in what may be truly described as a broadcast to the world. The B.B.C. received from all parts of the world reports on the reception of the speech, which make it clear that the broadcast was almost a complete success. The area covered was some seventeen hours of longitude, and conditions of reception were, therefore, necessarily very varied.

In Europe all the more important countries reported participation in the broadcast with the exception of Spain and Russia. In some countries interpreters were used for the speeches in foreign languages. In Italy the King’s speech was taken down in shorthand both in Rome and in the Vatican City. Reports from Iceland show that many inhabitants listened to Daventry (5XX) direct.

Five different channels were arranged for reception outside Europe:—

  1. G5SW, the B.B.C.’s Chelmsford experimental shortwave station;
  2. the Rugby Transatlantic telephone service to New York;
  3. the experimental Beam telephone service to Canada;
  4. the experimental Beam telephone service to Australia;
  5. the Beam telephone link with Japan, which is still in an early experimental stage.

No other previous arrangements were made, but it is a remarkable proof of the world-wide interest of the event that a number of short-wave stations joined in spontaneously. In Holland, for instance, Noordwijk picked up the speeches from 5XX Daventry and PCK (Kootwijk) passed them on to Java, where they were again radiated by PMP and PLE. It is believed that both the Dutch station PHI and the German station Zeesen were also listened to in various parts of the world, and the B.B.C. listening post at Tatsfield overheard rebroadcasts by Manila and two short-wave stations in the United States.


The Canadian National Railways’ chain of twenty-five broadcasting stations received the speeches from the terminal of the England-Canada Beam, and rebroadcast them, with excellent results, from coast to coast.


Arrangements had been made with the two “chains” of the National Broadcasting Company and the Columbia broadcasting system for rebroadcast in all parts of the United States. The N.B.C. used fifty-five stations and the Columbia thirty-eight. Of the two channels to the United States available, the N.B.C. used G5SW (B.B.C.) and also occasionally Rugby, while the Columbia system used the Rugby telephone with full success. From correspondence received from individuals, it is clear that public interest throughout the States was very great in spite of the fact that the broadcast took place at 6 a.m. New York time (which was 5 a.m. in Chicago and as early as 3 a.m. on the Pacific Coast). No reports of reception in Central and South America were received except from the Falkland Islands, where apparently the Government broadcasting service received the speeches satisfactorily from G5SW.


Arrangements were made by the three stations of the South African Broadcasting Company to attempt rebroadcast of a pick-up from G5SW. It appears that the attempt was unsuccessful, though Johannesburg reported a period of good reception. Subsequent evening talks on the Conference were well received and rebroadcast. The British East African Broadcasting Company reported good reception of the rebroadcast from Java, but no relay was attempted.


In Australia preparations for rebroadcast were made, but little or no success was achieved, while in New Zealand, on the contrary, several stations (G5SW in England, 2XAF in America, and PLE or PMP in Java) were well received and rebroadcast from the four stations of the Radio Broadcasting Company. In the Philippines the Manila station KZRM received and relayed the speeches, and its transmission was picked up at widely different points of the globe, including Tatsfield, the B.B.C.’s receiving station near London; the source of Manila’s reception being probably Java. As regards Japan, the intention had been to rely upon the experimental beam service from Dorchester, and on G5SW, but in actual fact the rebroadcast, which was carried out fairly successfully, seems to have been based on reception of KGO, Oakland, California. Hong-Kong reported excellent reception of the King’s speech, which was picked up from a short-wave station in Holland and rebroadcast from the local station. In parts of India there was fairly satisfactory reception of G5SW by amateurs, but no rebroadcast, while in Ceylon reception appears to have been wholly impossible. It is interesting to note that the B.B.C.’s regular correspondent in Malaya listened to Manila KZRM, which itself picked up PLE Java, this in turn receiving from PCK in Holland the output of Daventry 5XX.

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