The Chargé in the Netherlands (Wilson) to the Secretary of State

No. 595

Sir: I have the honor to refer to the Legation’s despatch No. 377, of March 9, 1936, and previous correspondence concerning the efforts of this Legation to obtain equal treatment for the United Press Associations in the distribution of its news service in the Netherlands East Indies. I enclose herewith in this connection a copy and a translation of a Note received from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs on November 24th.43

Early last summer, when no reply had been received to the second Note on this subject delivered to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (No. 236, of March 9, 1936, a copy of which is in the Department’s files42), Mr. Emmet made repeated representations, principally to Jonkheer de Graeff. I have also repeatedly discussed the question with other officials of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs concerned in such matters. It long ago became obvious that the matter rested primarily in the hands of the Government of the East Indies and that the Foreign Office here was either unable to give any satisfactory reply or did not wish to do so. There would be no reason otherwise, considering the frank and friendly relations between this Legation and the Foreign Office, for their handling the matter in a way which is certainly more usual in the Orient than it is in the Netherlands. The long delay has been accompanied by various subterfuges and by the occasional injection of irrelevant items into the picture in order to keep the Legation from pressing the main point. The enclosed note can scarcely be accepted as satisfactory after a delay of more than a year.

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Count Keyserlingk of the United Press and Mr. Hugh Bailey, newly elected President of the Association, were in The Hague recently and said that they were making no progress whatever; that contrary to statements made at the Foreign Office here and, I believe, also to Consul Foote in Batavia, they have not been approached by Reuter with any plan from which a satisfactory arrangement might possibly be worked out. They were however not greatly concerned, apparently, with the question of obtaining immediate entry for their news service into the East Indies, believing as they do that this will come in time, but they were on the other hand concerned with the brief and unsatisfactory reply which they received from the Netherlands Ministry of the Interior in connection with their original request for equal treatment with other news agencies in radio rates from the Netherlands to the East Indies (see the Legation’s original despatch No. 321, of November 15, 1935). The Department has taken the view that, in its opinion, the discrimination between the two companies constitutes a breach of Article XXII of the Telecommunication Convention signed at Madrid December 9, 1932.

It is difficult to escape the conclusion that the Government of the Netherlands East Indies and probably the Home Government do not wish the United Press–Vereenigd Persbureau combine to distribute news in the East Indian archipelago. Their reasons are the obvious ones that whereas Reuter-Aneta supplies carefully chosen and often inspired news, another agency might not restrict its news to what is good for the natives. The Department may wish to give some consideration to their point of view even though there appears to be involved in the question a breach of a signed international agreement. I should be pleased to have instructions before taking any further steps.44

Respectfully yours,

Grenville T. Emmet
  1. Not printed; this note merely stated that the opinion requested from the Governor General of the Netherlands Indies by the Ministry of Colonies had not yet been received. No further reply from the Netherlands Government has been found in the Department files.
  2. Not printed.
  3. The Department apparently issued no further instructions in the matter.