Telegraph Agency of the Soviet Union

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The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

Telegraph Agency of the Soviet Union


(TASS; full title, Telegraph Agency of the Soviet Union of the Council of Ministers of the USSR), the central news organ of the USSR. TASS collects official and other national news, international news, and photographic reports, which it disseminates to organs of the Soviet press, television and radio stations, other organizations in the Soviet Union, and subscribing organizations abroad.

TASS originated as the Petrograd Telegraph Agency (PTA), which became the central news organ of the Soviet state under a decree of the Council of People’s Commissars of the RSFSR dated Nov. 18 (Dec. 1), 1917. The Presidium of the All-Russian Central Executive Committee and the Council of People’s Commissars adopted a resolution in 1918 to merge the PTA with the Bureau of the Press of the All-Russian Central Executive Committee; a decree of the All-Russian Central Executive Committee assigned this association the title Russian Telegraph Agency (ROSTA) on Sept. 7, 1918. After the formation of the USSR, the country’s news service was reorganized. TASS was established as an all-Union organ on July 10, 1925, by a resolution of the Presidium of the Central Executive Committee of the USSR.

During the years of the first five-year plans, TASS reported on labor achievements, on the people’s heroism in the struggle to build socialism and the struggle for the triumph of Leninist national policy, and on the international situation. During the Great Patriotic War of 1941–45, TASS correspondents reported daily from every front on the combat operations of the Soviet Army and Navy. The Okna TASS (propagandistic political posters) contributed greatly to the mobilization of the people’s forces in the struggle against the fascist German invaders. In the postwar decades the TASS news service depicted the country’s sociopolitical life, the building of the national economy, the development of science, culture and art, and the people’s struggle to fulfill the decisions of the Central Committee of the CPSU. It also reported the increasingly urgent news about the international situation, the life of the countries of the socialist community, and the successes of the Leninist peaceful foreign policy.

In December 1971, by a resolution of the Council of Ministers of the USSR, TASS was reorganized into a news organ at the Union-republic level. Its status gives it the rights of a state committee of the Council of Ministers of the USSR.

TASS, the telegraph agencies of the Union republics, and TASS’ network of domestic and foreign correspondents together form the country’s integrated state news system. TASS has offices and correspondents’ bureaus in more than 100 countries and more than 500 correspondents in the USSR.

TASS issues around-the-clock summaries of national and international news, which are transmitted by teletypewriter and distributed on mimeographed sheets or in the form of printed bulletins. It also issues sports reports by teletypewriter and economic and commercial news bulletins. Within the country, TASS news is received by 3,700 newspapers, 50 radio stations, and 80 television studios; abroad, more than 300 foreign organizations in 75 countries receive TASS news. TASS disseminates news in Russian, English, Spanish, French, German, and Arabic.

TASS is headed by a general director, who forms a collegium together with his deputies and the heads of the agency’s principal services. The most important divisions of TASS’ central apparatus in Moscow are the chief editorial departments—national news, foreign news, socialist countries, news for dissemination abroad, and photographic news (Fotokhronika TASS)—and the Central Communications Board, which ensures the operation of TASS’ far-flung network of technical communications in the country and abroad.

TASS was awarded the Order of the October Revolution in 1975.


The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.