War of the Waves: The Effect of Radio During World War II

Economics

Speaker:Massimiliano Onorato, Università Cattolica del Sacro Cuore
Date: Wednesday 29 November 2017
Time: 13:30pm
Location: Streatham Court B

Further details

Can counter-propaganda by a foreign democratic country help to overthrow an authoritarian military regime? And if so, what are the mechanisms through which this happens? We analyze these questions in the context of the Nazi-Fascist occupation of Italy during WWII. We study the effect of BBC radio counter-propaganda (Radio Londra) on the intensity of internal resistance to the Nazi occupation. Using variation in monthly sunspots activities affecting the sky-wave propagation of BBC broadcasting towards Italy, we show that BBC radio had a significant impact on political violence. In particular, an increase in the signal to noise ratio of the BBC radio in a given municipality-month was associated with an increase in the victims of Nazi-fascist violence in response to resistance activities. Moreover, exploiting variations in bombings by the allied forces, we show the presence of complementarities between the BBC counter-propaganda and the allied forces' military effort.