The United States has launched a new phase of international communications with a daily two-hour satellite broadcast to Western Europe and Japan. The transmission from US Information Agency (USIA) studios in Washington is another step by the US to establish worldwide satellite communication.
USIA director Charles Wick described the operation, which began April 22, as the latest ``weapon'' in ``the war of ideas'' between the United States and the Soviet Union.
Transmission costs for the use of satellites to beam the program to Europe amount to $1.6 million for the initial test of one year, Mr. Wick said. To date, American libraries, cultural centers, and embassies in Britain, France, Denmark, West Germany, Italy, Sweden, and the Netherlands have been equipped to receive the signal.
The program is the closest development yet to a type of transmission -- ``direct-satellite broadcasting'' -- that has aroused considerable concern in Western Europe, the third world, and the Soviet bloc. Many governments oppose the beaming of broadcasts into their countries over whose content they have no control.
The new program is an expansion of the two-year-old Worldnet satellite television news conferences sponsored by the USIA.
Twice a week foreign journalists in various world capitals interview US officials in two-way ``interactive'' broadcasts. These have been used in the new program, which includes a USIA news and feature production, other documentaries, and economic, sports, scientific, and other segments.