811.71245/24: Telegram

The Secretary of State to the Ambassador in the United Kingdom (Winant)

5684. Your 5650 of August 27. Substance of your telegram has been discussed with representatives of United Press and Ambassador Phillips. It is the Department’s desire that vigorous efforts be continued with a view to effecting a reconsideration of the decision reached by the Governments of the United Kingdom and India, and that there be emphasized to the Foreign Office the strong feeling of this Government in the matter. There are cited below considerations which should be presented to the Foreign Office:

While it is true that wireless transmissions from any point in India would be subject to interception by the enemy such interception could in no way give aid or comfort to the enemy since all material transmitted would have been precensored by the Government of India.
Further, nearly every despatch would have previously passed through British censorship in London or American censorship or both. It is the Department’s understanding that all news despatches from this country destined for India pass through London whence they are sent by cable or radio to India.
Thus there would be double and in many cases triple censorship besides the fact that most news material would already have been transmitted by wireless throughout the world and thus would be available to the enemy before distribution in India.
United Press recognizes that in certain Indian centers from which it has requested wireless transmission facilities there may not now be sufficient censorship and security personnel but it believes that in at least three of those centers, Bombay, New Delhi and Calcutta, adequate personnel for such control already is available. It is suggested, therefore, that at least for the time being transmissions be limited to those three points.
The wireless facilities which are being requested in India on behalf of United Press are available in the United States to any responsible British or other friendly foreign news agency desiring to use them.
It was United Press’ original intention and preference to offer to Indian newspapers a service of foreign news only. Prospective Indian newspaper clients of the UP have pointed out that UP must also be prepared to deliver a service of Indian news. Otherwise, because of the monopoly clause in Reuter contracts newspaper publishers using UP foreign service might not obtain any Indian news. If it were not for the Reuter monopoly clause the UP could enter the Indian field as a supplementary service, competing with Reuter in foreign news only—given facilities for distribution of even a foreign news service from the cable head at Bombay.

It is believed that the foregoing explanations satisfactorily dispose of the security problem involved. In the Department’s estimation, [Page 295] however, the whole problem of the operation of UP in India far transcends the question of any possible technical difficulties involved. It raises the question whether in the territories of the United Nations free competition will be allowed to enterprises of nationals of the United Nations on a basis of reciprocity. As has already been pointed out above should Reuters desire the use of the same kind of facilities in the United States that are being asked for UP in India it could obtain them without difficulty. While the Department is obviously not unmindful of the special circumstances obtaining at this time in India it should be pointed out that UP has no desire to render that situation more difficult by its presentation of news, and that furthermore, ample and adequate safeguards are provided by existing censorship both in England and in India. I hope, therefore, that when you bring this case again to the attention of the Foreign Office you will emphasize in an urgent manner the importance which the Department attaches to it.

As Ambassador Phillips is proceeding to London he will be available for consultation. As you know Ambassador Phillips is thoroughly familiar with all the aspects of this case. Please keep Department closely advised by telegraph of all developments in this case.

Repeated to New Delhi.