Cable Break, Radio Interference Foil Plan for Transatlantic Debate

A transatlantic cable failure and sunspot-caused interference of short wave radio broadcasting dissolved yesterday's proposed debate between members of the Harvard Debate Council and the Cambridge University Debate Union.

The debate of the resolution; "That this house thanks God for the Atlantic," was to have been transmitted live from Allston Burr Lecture Hall at 4 p.m. yesterday afternoon. Tentative plans have been made to hold the debate after the cable is repaired.

A Navy ship is currently investigating the interruption of cable service. Navy officials refused to comment on a radio report that the cable had been cut in several places by Russian fishing vessels.

Technical broadcasting difficulties began last week when one of the amplifiers in the underwater cable became defective, according to Miss Lillian Lang, British Broadcasting Corporation representative who worked with the Debate Council to plan the transatlantic debate.

Since that time, she said, "we have been able to reach England but unable to receive any replies." The BBC continued regular weekly programs by short wave radio and plans were made after the cable failure to transmit the debate in the same way.


About 100 spectators had gathered in Burr B by 4:30 p.m. yesterday afternoon when radio operators expected to establish immediate contact with the Cambridge group. By 5 p.m. however, the Harvard technicians were still unable to reach their Cambridge counterparts over the BBC network because of continuous sunspot interference. Ten minutes later all hope of running the debate was abandoned.

James D. Lorenz, Jr. '60, President of the Harvard Debate Council, stated that the debate will be postponed "for at least three weeks" until the transatlantic cable can be repaired. "We will not rely on the short wave radio alone again," he affirmed.

After yesterday's failure, Lorenz remarked that the Cambridge Debate Union might wish to change the topic before attempting another debate. If the topic is not changed, however, Harvard speakers will again oppose thanking God for the Atlantic, and yesterday's technical difficulties may constitute a strong point in their opposition.