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Information Telegraph Agency of Russia
Its origin is in a letter sent by Finance Minister V. N. Kokovtsev to foreign minister on March 26, 1904 writing that "our trade and industrial circles, as well as the Finance Ministry, are ever more in need of an independent exchange of information with foreign countries by telegraph and of a way to make internal business developments widely-known".
In July 1904 a meeting was held about the setting up of an official Telegraph Agency. St. Petersburg Telegraph Agency (SPTA). The new agency's purpose was "to distribute political, financial, economic, trade, and other information of public interest within the country and abroad...". The St. Petersburg Telegraph Agency began work on September 1, 1904. On August 19 1914 Petrograd Telegraph Agency (PTA) was decreed by the government to become the central news agency of the state.
On September 7 1918 PTA was renamed into Russian Telegraph Agency (ROSTA). And on 25 July, 1925 it became the Telegraph Agency of the Soviet Union or Telegrafnoe agentstvo Sovetskogo Soiuza (TASS) by decree of the Presidium of the Central Executive Committee of the USSR.
During the Soviet era TASS was the only source of news for all Soviet newspapers, radio and television stations. During the mid 1980s when TASS was at its peak, there were 14 affiliates in the Union republics:
- RATAU (Ukraine)
- BELTA (Belarus)
- UZTAG (Uzbekistan)
- KAZTAG (Kazakhstan)
- GRUZINFORM (Georgia)
- AZERINFORM (Azerbaijan)
- ELTA (Lithuania)
- ATEM (Moldavia)
- LATINFORM (Latvia)
- KIRTAG (Kirghizia)
- TAJIKTA (Tajikistan)
- ARMENPRESS (Armenia)
- TURKMENINFORM (Turkmenia)
- ETA (Estonia)
TASS had bureaus and correspondents in 110 countries, with a daily output equal of 750 newspaper pages, translated into eight languages. It had nearly 5000 workers, with about a fifth being journalists.
In 1992, following the collapse of the Soviet Union, the name was changed to the Information Telegraph Agency of Russia - ITAR-TASS. It is still state-funded, and according to its website now produces about 700 newspaper pages per day, just under its Soviet peak. It has 74 bureaus and offices in Russia and other CIS countries and 65 bureaus in 62 foreign countries.
According to the Russian law, ITAR-TASS must be quoted when its news reports are distributed by others.
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