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Memo from Hilda Matheson to John Reith regarding HG Wells broadcast

Will HG Wells's broadcast require 'toning down'?

BBC ARCHIVE DOCUMENT 1929

Internal circulating Memo

28th June, 1929

From: Talks Director

To: D.P.

Subject: H. G. Wells

This is just to let you know that in view of the very great press activity, not to say jealousy aroused by the news of Mr. Wells' forthcoming broadcast, I agreed with A.C./I a form of words to be used in dealing with press enquiries. Major Murray thought there was a probable desire to embroil us with Mr. Wells on the censorship issue, and it seemed to me very important that we should not be led into any discussion on what steps we take or do not take in this connection.

In point of fact, we shall be completely covered, and it will be really rather unnecessary even to suggest a toning down of anything he may like to say. [Previous sentence is underlined from 'will be' to 'like to say' and refered to below as 'A'.] The reason for this is that Vernon Bartlett will be broadcasting the following night, and I have asked him to cover in general terms the criticisms which Wells will make of the Kellog Peace Pact and of the League of Nations. As a matter of fact, almost all the people interested in International questions however ardent supporters they may be of the Kellog Pact or of the League of Nations, welcomed Wells' Reichstag address just because it emphasised the fact that pacts and leagues were no use in themselves without a changed attitude in public opinion.

EHB

[Illegible]

D.G. might like to see this.

[Illegible]

D.P [in margin]

[Handwritten note]

I don't understand what A indicates. Our letter of 19/6 at B is our safeguard and should not be cancelled by subsequent modifications. His reply indicated a possible disregard but we are risking it by virtue of V.B. being able to reply. I suppose he has been asked to do so, and is agreeable. Has any further letter been written or conversation taken place?


[Illegible]

Seen and discussed with D. G.


[Document ends]

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Document Type | Memo

28 June 1929

Document version

Writtenin

1929

Synopsis

Hilda Matheson, Director of Talks, reassures Director General John Reith that any controversy raised by Mr Wells's address will be countered by a Vernon Bartlett broadcast the following day.

Did you know?

At this time, journalist Vernon Bartlett was also the director of the London office of the League of Nations, a role he held from 1922 until 1932. In 1933, Bartlett caused controversy within the BBC, where he worked as a radio correspondent. In a news report about Germany walking out of the Geneva Disarmament Conference and leaving the League of Nations, Bartlett suggested that Britain might have acted in a similar way, should the country have been in the same position as Germany. The ensuing storm saw protests by politicians and criticism in the press. Bartlett subsequently resigned.

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