WASHINGTON — President Reagan taped a New Year's message to the Soviet people today to be shown on television in Russia on the holiday, a White House spokesman said.
Marlin Fitzwater said Soviet leader Mikhail S. Gorbachev is taping a reciprocal message for the holiday and U.S. television networks are being asked if they will air it. Fitzwater said it is up to the networks and "if they don't want to do it, they don't have to."
He said the networks declined to give any commitment in advance but he thought they would broadcast the Gorbachev speech to the American people.
If there is no agreement on joint airing of the three- to five-minute tapes by the superpower leaders, written messages will be exchanged.
Fitzwater said if the Gorbachev message is broadcast, it is expected to air at noon on New Year's Day in the United States and the Reagan message at a similar time in the Soviet Union.