The Minister in the Netherlands (Emmet) to the Secretary of State

No. 310

Sir: I have the honor to inform the Department that Mr. R. W. Keyserlingk, managing editor of the Continental Department of the United Press Associations, with offices in London, called at the Legation on October 17th for the purpose of discussing certain difficulties which the United Press has encountered in the Dutch East Indies.

I enclose herewith for the Department’s information a copy of an Aide-Mémoire left by Mr. Wilson at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs today. It outlines the problem briefly and asks only for information. Should this information, when it is forthcoming, prove unsatisfactory, it is my intention to make an official protest in writing, unless in the meantime the Department should instruct me not to do so. There is no doubt of the truth of the allegations of the United Press as to the discriminatory action of the Ministry of the Interior and I enclose a copy in this connection of a letter sent by the United [Page 614] Press to the Minister of the Interior (incorrectly called “Communications”) on August 19th, last, and of the reply of that Department dated October 4th.38

It is probably known to the Department that the telegraphic news supplied to the daily papers of the Netherland East Indies by Reuter-Aneta is colored in such a way as to give the British point of view on all matters. While this in itself may not be harmful to the United States, the principle involved seems to be one over which we may well afford to be concerned. However, pending the Department’s instructions, I shall not go beyond the present informal discussion of the question with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

Respectfully yours,

For the Minister:
Warden McK. Wilson

First Secretary of Legation

The American Legation to the Netherland Ministry for Foreign Affairs


The United Press Association is one of the most important news agencies in the international field. Its functions and its interests are very much like those of the Associated Press, Reuter, Havas, etc. It has for some time past attempted to penetrate into the field of the Netherland East Indies and to sell there to local newspapers its worldwide telegraphic service. It was prevented from carrying out this purpose, according to information given the American Legation, by the influence which the press association Aneta was able to bring to bear upon the local publishers.

Recently, the Aneta Agency, having experienced some difficulties of a financial nature and otherwise, was faced with the formation of a new press agency called Vereenigd Pers Bureau, Batavia, which undertook to maintain an independent position as against the Aneta-Reuter monopoly in the purchase of news.

This new association approached the United Press and asked that an arrangement be made with them similar to that existing between Reuter and Aneta, that is to say, to supply them with non-Netherland news from all over the world and also with a financial service. An agreement having been reached, such a service was started on August 16th of this year. There has apparently ensued a quarrel of some proportions between the two Netherland agencies, Aneta and Vereenigd [Page 615] Pers Bureau, which has, according to the Legation’s information, been recently placed in the hands of the President of the Java Bank for the purpose of arbitration.

The United Press Association, having entered into its agreement with the Vereenigd Pers Bureau, has found that it is faced with what it considers to be discriminatory treatment on the part of the Netherland authorities in Chargé of Posts, Telegraphs and Telephones. A representative of the Association called therefore on Ir. M. H. Damme, the director of the P. T. T., at The Hague, and addressed a formal letter, on August 19th, last, to the appropriate Government Department applying for equal treatment with the Reuter Agency in so far as radio transmission rates were concerned. This request was flatly refused, without comment, by the Ministry of the Interior in a letter addressed to the United Press on October 4th, last.

This question has been discussed by representatives of the United Press with Mr. A. J. Lievegoed, the Chief of the Press Service of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, and with Jhr. H. M. van Haersma de With, the Netherland Minister in Washington. It is the Legation’s understanding that Mr. Lievegoed gave it as his opinion that the discriminatory action of the Ministry of the Interior, which charges the United Press approximately three times as much as it does Reuter, is in reality not being applied to the United Press but to the Vereenigd Pers Bureau.

The American Legation is concerned with what appears to be in effect a decision by the Ministry of the Interior which will deprive an American firm of the privilege of competing freely in the territory of the Netherland East Indies and which will effectively safeguard the position of another foreign news agency, and would be pleased to have such information on the subject as the Ministry of Foreign Affairs will wish to furnish at its convenience.

  1. Neither printed.