International communication policy and Australia-US relations, 1920-1950

    Research output: A Conference proceeding or a Chapter in BookConference contribution

    Abstract

    Prior to the Second World War, communication between the United States and Australia was constrained by the lack of a direct submarine cable or wireless telegraphy link between the two countries. As a matter of Imperial policy, supported by Australian governments, all traffic between Australia and the US was routed via Britain (the ‘Eastern’ route) or Canada (the ‘Pacific’ route). These arrangements were designed to serve the strategic interests of the British Empire and to protect the commercial interests of British companies, especially Cable and Wireless. In the 1930s, the Australian government repeatedly rejected approaches from the Radio Corporation of America to open up a direct radio-telegraph service between America and Australia, much to the chagrin of US business interests. Between the Wars, coverage of international news in the Australian press largely emerged out of an ‘imperial press system’ centred in London. Most US news destined for Australia was actually sourced in London. This ‘Imperial preference’ in news-flow was facilitated by the telegraph system and by global cartel arrangements amongst international news agencies whereby the London-based agency, Reuters, was given priority access to the Australian news market. US news destined for Australia was routinely channelled via Reuters. In the 1930s, American diplomats in Australia complained that these arrangements prevented the Australian public from receiving a consistent flow of impartial news about America and that this was damaging US– Australian relations. Pressure was brought to bear on the Australian Government to allow the opening up of a direct telegraphic link between the two countries. But it was finally the outbreak of World War 2 in the Pacific that radically altered Australia’s communication orientation. Just a week after the Japanese bombing of Pearl Harbour on 7 December 1941, the US Secretary of State, Cordell Hull, telegraphed Canberra that the establishment of a direct telegraph circuit was ‘absolutely imperative’. The Australian government consented three days later and the link was opened on 26 December 1941. This paper examines communication policy and international news agency history in the context of the development of US — Australia relations from 1920–1950. In so doing, it demonstrates the importance of communication policy and the role of international news agencies in the history of Australia’s relations with the US.
    Original languageEnglish
    Title of host publicationRecord of the Communications Policy and Research Forum 2011
    EditorsFranco Papandrea, Mark Armstrong
    Place of PublicationSydney
    PublisherNetwork Insight Institute
    Pages67-80
    Number of pages14
    Volume1
    ISBN (Print)9780980434446
    Publication statusPublished - 2011
    EventCommunication Policy and Research Forum - Sydney, Australia
    Duration: 7 Nov 20118 Nov 2011

    Conference

    ConferenceCommunication Policy and Research Forum
    CountryAustralia
    CitySydney
    Period7/11/118/11/11

    Fingerprint

    International Communication
    Communication Policy
    News
    Government
    Arrangement
    News Agencies
    Telegraph
    Route
    1930s
    Second World War
    Communication
    History
    Reuters
    Canada
    British Empire
    Canberra
    Submarine
    Secretary of State
    Traffic
    Bombing

    Cite this

    Putnis, P. (2011). International communication policy and Australia-US relations, 1920-1950. In F. Papandrea, & M. Armstrong (Eds.), Record of the Communications Policy and Research Forum 2011 (Vol. 1, pp. 67-80). Sydney: Network Insight Institute.
    Putnis, Peter. / International communication policy and Australia-US relations, 1920-1950. Record of the Communications Policy and Research Forum 2011. editor / Franco Papandrea ; Mark Armstrong. Vol. 1 Sydney : Network Insight Institute, 2011. pp. 67-80
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    Putnis, P 2011, International communication policy and Australia-US relations, 1920-1950. in F Papandrea & M Armstrong (eds), Record of the Communications Policy and Research Forum 2011. vol. 1, Network Insight Institute, Sydney, pp. 67-80, Communication Policy and Research Forum, Sydney, Australia, 7/11/11.

    International communication policy and Australia-US relations, 1920-1950. / Putnis, Peter.

    Record of the Communications Policy and Research Forum 2011. ed. / Franco Papandrea; Mark Armstrong. Vol. 1 Sydney : Network Insight Institute, 2011. p. 67-80.

    Research output: A Conference proceeding or a Chapter in BookConference contribution

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    Putnis P. International communication policy and Australia-US relations, 1920-1950. In Papandrea F, Armstrong M, editors, Record of the Communications Policy and Research Forum 2011. Vol. 1. Sydney: Network Insight Institute. 2011. p. 67-80