800.01B11 Registration/1708

Memorandum by the Chief of the Division of European Affairs ( Matthews ) to the Under Secretary of State ( Welles )

Mr. Welles: We have now received from the Department of Justice the information concerning the registration of the Tass News Agency regarding which the Soviet Chargé spoke to you on August 11. According to this information, on June 25 the Attorney General personally received Mr. Durant, the Manager of the Tass Agency in the United States, and explained to him the requirements under the law for the registration of government-owned news agencies. This was subsequently confirmed by a letter to Mr. Durant from the Attorney General dated July 17, 1943, a copy of which is attached.46

The situation is briefly as follows:

Neither the Soviet Embassy nor officials of Tass have ever denied that the Tass News Agency is owned by the Soviet Government. The complaint is that such government-owned agencies are subject to different registration requirements than are privately-owned news agencies such as Reuters. Since all government-owned news agencies in this country, i.e. those of Poland, Yugoslavia and others, are required to comply with the provisions of the Act, the request of the Tass Agency in effect is in reality a request for discrimination in favor of the government-owned news agency of the Soviet Union.47 As set forth in his attached letter to Mr. Durant, the Attorney General does not consider it possible to make an exception on behalf of Tass.

[Page 843]

With reference to the specific point raised by Mr. Gromyko in which he referred to the Department’s memorandum of May 10, there was no question of the exception of the Tass Agency from the requirements of registration. The Department of Justice agreed to remove certain wording from the registration which appeared to imply that Tass was not a bona fide news agency. This amendment has been made, as stated in the Attorney General’s letter attached.48

H. Freeman Matthews
  1. Not printed.
  2. In a memorandum of August 18 to the Under Secretary of State, the Assistant Chief of the Division of European Affairs (Hickerson) remarked that “it is interesting to note that in regard to other matters such as exemption from taxes, travel facilities, et cetera, the employees of Tass in this country are given the status of foreign officials.” (800.01B11 Registration/1708)
  3. The Attorney General, in his letter of July 17, 1943, to Mr. Kenneth Durant, had explained that it was not intended to cast doubt upon the status of Tass representatives as bona fide news correspondents because they represented a government-owned news agency as compared with correspondents of foreign private news agencies. Therefore the wording of Rule 303(b) of the regulations had been revised, and a copy of the amended rule was enclosed with the letter. (800.01B11 Registration/1708)