Created: 6/1/1967

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Intelligence Memorandum

New Soviet Initiatives in Communication? Satellites and Television

CENTRAL INTELLIGENCE AGENCY Directorate of Intelligence


New Sovif Initiatives in Communication5 Satellites and Television


Major Soviet initiative! arc under way insatellite (comaat) system* and television Domestically, therash expansion of TV coverage in time for the fiftieth anniversary of the Bolshevik Revolution. Costing about0 million, this effort has two main elemenU, designed to catch foreign as well as domestic attention. One is the creationystem of aboutew ground stations (see the photograph) to be used with the Molniya comsatB in relaying and distributing Moscow-originated telecasts to the remotest corners of the USSR. The other ia the completionew TV transmission complex in Moscow, featuring the OsUnkino television tower, an architectural showpiece that ranks as the tallest building in ihe world.

The completion of the new ground stations (Orbita) will permit tec USSR toead over the United Statesationwide system of TVbv comsats. Although initially capable of TV

N^ie: This memoiandumproduced solely by CIA. It was prepared by the Office of Research and Reports and was coordinated with th? Office oi Currenttrhe estimates and conclusions represent the best judgment ol the Directorate ol Intc-ligence as of

reception, the stations can be modified to handle two-way television, telephone, and telegraph traffic. When this occurs, probably within the next few years for at least some stations, the USSR will have substantially upgraded' strategic communications in its eastern and northern regions.

At the international level, the USSR agreed to and then, owing to repercussions of the Arab-Israeli war, withdrew from participationive global TVscheduled forolniya satellite and three satellites operated by theTelecommunications Satellite Consortiumhis would have been the first case of operational coopera tion between the two systems. Moving in yet another direction, the USSR recently issued an invitation for both Communist and non-Communist nations to join inew international comsat organization. These Soviet moves appear to be designed to show that the USSR, although receptive to international cooperation on an ad hoc basis, is unwilling to join Intelsat, an organization which it feels is subordinated to IIS intfTf-ar*



iftieth anniversary of the Uolshevik Revolution hasocua for major new moves by the USSR in the fields of communications satellite (comsat) systems and TV broadcasting. Although the main thrust of these moves is aimed at improving communications services within the USSR, some of them clearly dovetail with Soviet loreign policy and propaganda objectives.

This memorandum first outlines the scope ol current initiatives by the USSR to expand Soviet comsat and TV broadcast capabilities, both domestic and Second, it examines the internationalof the Soviel program, with special reference to its propaganda potential and to the emergence of new facets in the relationship between the USSR and the international Telecommunications Satellite Consortiuminally, the memorandum considers the likely effects of the expansion program on internal telecommunications in the USSR, including Soviet strategic communications.

The Crash Domestic TV Program via Comsatf-

the USSR is making intensiveto highlight the fiftieth anniver*ary of the the so-called Jubilee Yearo becoming autumn. Amongpreparations, thein terms of financial and technical effort isprogram to provide expansion ofiSR in time lor thecelebrations- absui0 million, thu programdesigned tDhe attention o* foreign as well

ass:ic observers. One is the creationomsatspabl- of relaying and flittr.butinggiaarcd leleca.-ts to'jrnera of the USSR. Phe otf-Cr is completiono'v TV transmittingin Moscow that includes th* tallest building in the wo rid.

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Orbita Satellite Ground Stations

planning for the celebration of theSoviet authorities were faced withcommunications problem. The USSRone of the most elaborate domesticsystems in the world, but its televisionmedium of far greater impact on the averagelagged far behind. Aslive" TVMoscow could reach only about one-third oflandmass and could be seen by onlyillionmillion Soviet citizensmost of them livingthe Urals.

part, this situation resulted from aTV receivers5 there were only aboutoviet citizens}. In the USSR,problem has traditionally been mitigated byreceivers for group viewing. The moston nationwide network telecasting frombeen the lack of long-haul transmission mediacarrying television to population centers in thenorthern regions O* ihe USSR.

6. Inuthorities in Moscowthe press that central TV coverage of the would be extended to the more remotethe USSR through the use of comsat technology. Forsegment, the system was to use the Soviettwo of which by then had been successfullyrelay both TV and communication traffic betweenVladivostok. ew |round segment, whichthe subjectde*proad Soviet publicity,etwork of BO-called Orbita stations,population centers mapiised widely throughouteastern and northern

7. The Orbita construction program, whichprovides fortttlont, now haa been under way

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for almostonths. Thus far, the location oftations haa been firmly established (sechose responsible for installing the stations clearly aro under official pressure to have them completed in time for the November celebrations. Although there is evidence of problems in construction and installation at some of the sites, virtually all of them will probably be ready by the deadline.

8. For initial operations, the Orbita stations apparently are designed only for the receptioningle TV channel. In their current configuration, they will not have the capability to transmit television nor will they be able to accommodate telephone and telegraph traffic. Physically, the stations consist of circular buildings abouteet in diameter, eachfoot dish antenna (sea the photograph,the Summary). The antenna system, weighingons, is described by Moscov? as "very expensive, highly complicated, and among the latest achievements of Soviet science. " For tracking ths satellites moving across the sky, the Orbita antennas have been made fully steerable, which greatly adds to building and maintenance costs.

9. When completed, the ground stations willan estimated initial investment of at least

jh ui trie installation.iya satellite'shighs: than the power bits ground station* are smaller, less complex, and less axpensivs than would otherwise be to ICCOmmoda'

as television would increaseossiblyercent or more.

fic as well substantially.

million, or an average ofSillion per station. Precise cost estimate! iru not possible, not only because firm price data ar* frigmentary but also because construction costs in the "JSSR vary widelv depending on 'he geographicalwing to ths high power oi thsitt*rscurrently several timsfl nigh of Intelsatihin ae

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The Molniya Satellite*

5 the USSRfive Molniya communications

atcllites into highly ellipticalecently on Each of these Molniya comsats has relayed tale-vision or. alternatively.hannels of communications traffic. Except for tost TV transmissions between Moscow and Paris, these relays have been exclusively between Moscow and Vladivostok.

the orbit chosen, threesatellites would beour coverage of theare. however, that theof the first three Molniyasowing to the effects of radiationcomponent*. Recentthat the USSR has taken step*this problem. Although thecautiously labeled even thea*t isthe system in now movingfull operational status. Itthat yet anotherwill be orbited before thes-.ations begin operation inhalf

The All-Unior. TV Center

with the Orbitanetwork, the USSR iscompletionV transmissioncomplex that I* without parallelWestern world. The dominantthia complex,h->Centex, Withoutthenc- ete tower Is


slightly taller than the Empire State Building. The Center is located in the Oatankino suburb of Moscow and has been under construction Over the past year or so, Soviet authorities have pushed hard on thin showpiece project in an effort to have it operational in time for the Anniversary celebrations.

13. The Center is being equipped witharge studios andkilowatt TV transmitters. It is designed to serveational facility for TVproduction, and transmissionhe Soviet version of CBS, NBC, and ABC In New York rolled into one. Soviet planning calls for the All-Union Center eventually to telecastoura per day on five channels, about two and one-half times Moscow's current TV output ofoay on three channels. The effective radius of direct telecasting from the Center williles, compared with onlyoiles for existing Moscow facilities. One of the Center's channels will beto all regions of the USSR. Reliable estimates place the full cost of the new complex at about US SIillion.

External Aspect of Soviet Comsat Policy

14. When Intelsat was chartered under the Interim Agreement4 toingle global comsal

aySvem, the USSR rejected an invitation to join, charging that itapitalist] venture subordinated to US interests. ajor reason for the Soviet objection is the fact that the Intelsat charter mads ownership of the space segment directly proportionateember nation'* share of IcSerMtldaft) communications traffic, w'r.vth gave the Unitesercent interest and the USSR onlyercent.

muffled tho UN theme, and is now moving ahead in several directions with an international comsat policy of its own.

16- As its initial move, the USSR invited both France and Japan to participate in testingnternational relay capabilities with the ground stations they had built for use with Intelsat satellites. Japan declined but France, which was then engagedromising effort to sell its SECAM color TV system to the USSR, agreed. esult, the Molniya satellite was used in both5 and6 to relay color TV test transmissions between Moscow and tho French ground station at Ploumeur Bodou.

At about this same time the USSR reportedly undertook to expand its role in the international comsat business by offering ground stations to certain of the less developed countries. Although such rumors could not be confirmed at the time, it was announced in6 that the USSR hadirmto assist in the installation and maintenanceomsat ground station In Cuba. In the same month, the UAR announced Soviet agreement toomaat ground atation in Egypt. Thus far, however, no construction schedules have been announced, and there is no firm evidence as to whether these stations are to be oi the Orbita type (TV reception only) or equipped to provide the fall range of two-wayservices.

Thus, tofforts toSoviet achievements tntechnology have brought concrete results ic only three nation* outside the European Communist Bloc. Significantly, however, two of the three (France and the UAR) are signatories of Intelsat, one of whose f'jedamontal concepts has been that all members would be committedingle global system.

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19. Apparently confidant that the time was ripe, both politically and technologically, the USSR moved recently to expand its horizons in the field ofcomsat diplomacy. At the conclusioneeting of Communist countries inhe USSRommunique* inviting both Communist and non-Communist countries to join with it inan independent international comsat system. Although Moscow-authorized communique's of this type are typically ambiguous as to firm commitment and planning, it is more than likely that Soviet ambassadorsumber of foreign capitals have been instructed to play up this theme.

Despite its fundamental opposition to the ground rules under which Intelsat currently operates, the USSR haa apparentlyore flexible stance in its relationship with the Consortium. 46 the USSR refused to involve itself directly with Intelsat facilities (Intelsat controls only the satellites; ground stations in the system arc nationally owned). owever, the USSR relaxed this attitude. In connection wuh theof direct air service between Moscow and Tokyo in April, it allowed live telecasting of the ceremonies to be relayed between the two capitals via Intelsat satellites.

Of much greater .nter-*st, however,ive global TV spectacular scheduled forune. During this telecast the Sov:st MolnAysouldeen operationally linkerthat 'A Intelsat fors planned, the TV ipacial to

rounds that

a smear cam-leacefUl policy states.

have used fourolniya and three operated by Intelsat. The Soviet satellite wasto provide direct rolay within the USSR between Moscow and Vladivostok. Transmissions to and from the USSR were to be carried via terrestrial linos between Moscow and Brussels. The three Intelsat satellites will provide relay between Europe, North America, and Asia. * The stimulus for this global spectacular came from the tlliC. but the telecast itself is under the official sponsorship of the European Broadcasting Union. The promoters predict that the telecast couldiewing audienceillion people On five continents.


Current Soviet initiatives in the sphere of comsats and television have several implications. Once the network of Orbita ground stations becomes operational, and perhaps bofore.the USSR is likely toechnological lead over the United States inational system of TV distribution by satellite. The USSR will probably also boast that its actions have conferred the benefits of comsaton the Soviet population while the government and industry in the US are still debating theoviet claims will almost certainly ignore the fact that excellent terrestrial telecommunications systems in the US and many other Western countries make ther TV distribution by satellite less than urgent.

Sovie; tactics toward Intelsat appear to be shillingnrelievedore pragmatic

6 Transmissionnd dii"ribt_tion within the continental US is being aponsorfld by the National Educational Television network.

Initially, the number 'il'.Soviet citizens Living within affective reception radius thw Orbita stations will range somewhere betweenmillion and ten million.

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"carrot and stick" approach. On the one hand, the televising of the recent inaugural of Moscow-Tokyo air service and the initial agreement to participate in the global TV spectacular wore probably intended to show that cooperation between the USSR and theis possible for specific purposes on specific occasions. Moscow may also be trying to lay the groundwork for using Intelsat facilities in relaying the Anniversary celebrations to the West, and possibly8 Olympics to the USSR. On the other hand, by first agreeing to install ground stations in Cuba and Egypt and then inviting other nations to joinoviet-sponsored comsat system, the USSR is clearly signaling that it docs not intend to join Intelsat unless fundamental changes are written into the charter, or to permit US dominance in the international comsat field to go

24. In the meantime, the USSR will probably try to exploit any convenient new opportunities to embellish its own stature in the international comsat field, wherever possible at the expense of the US. When the Interim Agreement is renegotiatedor example, some Intelsat members will almost certainly insist thai it ba altered to permit regional comsat systems. France and West Gormany have already announced their intention tooint regional system0 to handle Europeanith Africa ind Latin America, and Japan has Indicated that it wishes toystem of its own for Asian traffic. The USSR is well aware of the growing sentiment for regional systarns, and will almost certainly encourage their adoptionevelopment calculated to ercde the US conceptinglevstam and its dpsit:onnternationa:aiiair*. The USSR is likely to seek toorking arrangement with anyoregional systems tha: might cm:rw. and it isr.atmight contribute technical assistance* sucheality.

Initiatives by the USSR in the losscountries arcistinct possibility.

It is likely, however, that Moscow will exercise considerable caution and selectivity in its approach to these areas. In most of the less developedSoviet telephone and telegraph requirements are extremely modest, and the TV viewing audience is small. In virtually ail of them, acceptance of Soviet comsat technology would be contingent on Moscow's willingness to provide the necessary financing. Not the least Important, the USSR will-probably deem it desirable, before committing resources to projects, to estimate tbe probability that it canatisfactory relationship with the recipient country.

In the long run, tht Orbita ground stations are likely toonsiderably moreaddition to the Soviet telecommunications system than the TV center. Virtually all of the locations chosen for Orbita stations are of considerable strategic-economic importance to the USSR. Most of them are well beyond the reach of high-capacity communications trunklincs currently in cxiFtance and they have thus been forced to use cither unreliable high-frequency radio or vcry-low-capaoity wirelines for outside com-municatione. Although the Orbita ground stations will at first be confined to TV distribution, the USSR is believed capable cl adding multichannel telephone/ telegraphenevarapabilities are desired. It in likely tha: at least some of these ground stations will be equipped with auch Wcilities within the next few years.

Ahigure certain of the Orbita stations ar* located in clco^ proximity to facilities of the major trap-spheric scattei network now underhe Scvio; northern and eastern regions. In all likelihood lb*etwork* whanwill be Interconnected with the Molniya-Orbita satellite system. Whens accompli shod, the USSR will haveajorn modernising its strategic telec'jrmnunicattc.nftef the Ural*.

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