The Commonwealth Communications Council met for the first time at Halifax House in The Strand in April-May 1944. Replacing an Imperial Communications Advisory Committee operating since 1928, the CCC’s primary task was to review the international communications networks of Britain and its colonies and dominions, including Australia. In the weeks leading up to D-Day, the CCC held nineteen sessions, taking evidence from some of the main figures in imperial communications. They included the heads of the London-based Cable and Wireless, Edward Wilshaw, and the Australian-based Amalgamated Wireless (Australasia) [AWA], Ernest Fisk. Each laid out their own vision for the future of British international communications. Fisk, a Marconi man, presented a plan for a global wireless network, managed by a federation of independent nation states. Wilshaw, having spent his whole working life at the global cable giant Eastern Telegraph and its successor Cable and Wireless, argued for a single Empire Corporation, headquartered in London, with cable at its heart. Neither got their way and neither lasted long in the restructured organisations that resulted. About the only thing they agreed on was the need for the Commonwealth to reassert Britain’s place in the post-war world. On that, they were both disappointed. This paper assesses a decisive technological, political and economic moment and the personalities that shaped it.
Paper presented at 'Trends, Traditions and Transformations', the 7th Australian Media Traditions Conference (AMT2011), Hawthorn, Victoria, Australia, 21-23 November 2011