The Lucerne Plan, 1934–1936 

28 July 2023


World-Radio cover

From World-Radio magazine for 17 January 1936

The broadcasting stations of Europe have now been working according to the Lucerne Plan for two years, the Plan having been put into force at one minute past midnight on the night of January 14/15, 1934. The Lucerne Plan has been more nearly applied than its predecessors of Geneva, Brussels, and Prague, but it has not been applied integrally, even by some of the countries which signed it. On the long waveband the appropriation of one of the waves by Luxembourg has prevented the complete application of an arrangement suggested by the U.I.R. at Geneva in March, 1934, an arrangement which was made there as an experiment, since, owing to the failure of the stations of six non-signatories to take their allotted positions, the Lucerne Plan could not be applied. The action of Luxembourg in appropriating the frequency of 236 kc/s has resulted in a reduction of the separation in kilocycles per second between stations in this part of the band — Warsaw and Luxembourg are separated by only 6 kc/s, which is insufficient.

Of the non-signatories to the Plan, Motala, Sweden, is using the frequency of 216 kc/s allotted at Lucerne (and suggested in the U.I.R. Geneva experimental plan). Kaunas, Lithuania, on 155 kc/s; Huizen, or Kootwijk, Holland, on 160 kc/s; Lahti, Finland, on 166 kc/s; and Warsaw, Poland, on 224 kc/s, are either occupying the places they previously occupied, or those suggested by the U.I.R. Geneva experimental plan. Of the signatories, Brasov, Romania, on 160 kc/s; the Deutchlandsender, Germany, on 191 kc/s; Droitwich, Great Britain, on 200 kc/s; Minsk, on 208 kc/s; Leningrad, on 245 kc/s; Moscow 2, on 271 kc/s (all U.S.S.R.); and Kalundborg, Denmark, on 238 kc/s, are all working on their allotted frequencies, while Moscow 1 is on 172 kc/s instead of 175 kc/s; Kharkov on 232 kc/s instead of 223 kc/s; and Oslo on 262 kc/s instead of 253 kc/s. The U.I.R. Geneva experimental plan provided for Moscow 1 on 174 kc/s and Oslo on 253 kc/s. Reykjavik is working on 208 kc/s with Minsk.

The present position on the long waves, therefore, is that part of three separate arrangements — the Prague Plan, the Lucerne Plan, and the U.I.R. experimental plan — co-exist.

On the medium waves, the position is much clearer, for although the majority of the non-signatories did not apply the long-wave plan (Band 1) it was because of the long-wave position that they did not sign, and they did apply the Lucerne Plan in the medium waves.

In Band 2, which includes such stations as Rostov, Boden, Geneva, Moscow 3, Ostersund, and Oulu, the Lucerne frequencies are all in use, and there is only one station — Budapest 2 on 359 kc/s — which has no allotted place.

In Band 3, from 519 kc/s, the monthly frequency chart looks extremely tidy, with but few exceptions, and heterodynes are relatively infrequent. There is usually one on 776 kc/s, another on 850 kc/s, another on 1,022 kc/s, another on 1,240 kc/s, and another on 1,258 kc/s, owing to poor synchronisation of the stations using those frequencies.

Generally speaking, the stations are in their allotted places, the exceptions being where frequencies were allotted in the Plan to stations not yet built, and these frequencies are being used temporarily by other stations. One example of this is the use of 1,285 kc/s by Aberdeen and Dresden, which was agreed between the administrations concerned, and notified to all other signatories of the Plan. Luxembourg was allotted a frequency in the Plan (1,249 kc/s) which was considered suitable for giving a national service in the country. It has not been used by this station, however, and is now borrowed by two stations — Nice-Juan-les-Pins and Saarbrucken.

In addition to the seventeen channels allotted to France in the Lucerne Plan, all of which are being used by French stations, that country is using five other channels. The Eiffel Tower, which was in the long waveband, has taken up its place on the French National Common Wave of 1,456 kc/s.

As far as the British waves are concerned, some interference has been caused to Newcastle on 1,122 kc/s by the Hungarian station of Nyiregyhaza. This station worked on this frequency under the Prague Plan, and did not move when the Lucerne Plan came into force, since Hungary did not sign the Lucerne Convention. Fortunately for Newcastle listeners, the power of Nyiregyhaza is not high.

Probably the most outstanding feature of the application of the Lucerne Plan has been the great increase in stability of the transmitters. This is well illustrated in the table printed below.


Frequency stability

Maximum deviation from normal frequency Number of stations
c/s Aug. 1933 Feb. 1934 Aug. 1934 Feb. 1935 Oct. 1935 Nov. 1935
0 to 1 0 0 3 5 10 12
2 0 0 3 9 10 9
3 „ 5 1 7 9 14 21 22
6 „ 10 3 8 8 13 19 24
11 „ 25 2 16 12 20 32 25
26 „ 50 3 11 7 13 12 15
0 „ 10 4 15 23 41 60 67
0 „ 50 9 42 42 74 104 107


The Lucerne Plan recommended a tolerance of ±50 cycles per second for stations using exclusive waves and one of ±10 cycles per second for stations using shared waves — figures which are quite adequate from the listener’s point of view. The table shows that many European transmitters have managed to achieve in the past few months tolerances which are considerably smaller than the recommended figures.

While, owing to the position in the long waveband, it cannot be claimed that the Lucerne Plan is a complete success, it does represent a creditable international achievement from the technical aspect, for in the European Zone there are some 230 broadcasting stations, in some thirty-five different countries, working relatively free of interference.

L. W. H.


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