1 September 2005 Edition
The World Today - Countering the 'information dictatorship'
"Today, the media dictatorship is becoming a substitute to military dictatorship. The big economic groups are using the media and decide who can speak, who the good guy is and who the bad guy is" —Danny Glover, civil rights activist and United Nations' Goodwill Ambassador, praised the launch of the new channel and dismissed the idea that the content would be "Anti-US"
In an effort counteract the "information dictatorship" of big international news corporations in South America, a new television channel has begun broadcasting across five Latin American countries.
According to Andrés Izarra, President of Telesur, the new channel aims to create a "new international communications order" in the midst of "global neo-liberal privatisation policies that threaten cultures and civilisations". He added that the new TV channel wants to be "an initiative against cultural imperialism".
Since July Telesur, whose motto is "our north is the south", has been broadcast in Venezuela, Colombia, Uruguay, Argentina and Brazil. In the short term the objective is to expand the broadcast to include other countries in the region, including Mexico.
"Telesur does not depend on any government. It is independent to travel the integration road," said Venezuelan President, Chávez, as he delivered his address during the station's inaugural ceremony from the Teresa de Carreño Theatre, in Venezuela's capital Caracas.
"I believe that the challenge to be faced by Telesur when connecting to the souls and minds of the Latin American people is to keep its grasp of the truth," he added.
Chavez believes the channel will play a vital role in the integration of Latin American and Caribbean countries. It has correspondents in nine Latin America cities and there have also been broadcasts from Cuba. Broadcasts for Western Europe and North Africa are part of the channel's plans for the future. Telesur started with a budget of ten million dollars and 160 staff, and was funded by the states of Venezuela (51%), Argentina (20%), Cuba (19%) and Uruguay (10%).
Andrés Izarra has pointed out that the new TV channel operates in a space completely dominated by local oligarchies and the partners of those oligarchies, the north.
Most of the information about Latin America is produced by news corporations such as the American CNN, owned by the Time Warner corporation which also controls film and TV studios and publications such as Time magazine.
One of those behind the project, Telesur director and Uruguayan journalist Aram Aharonian commented: "Today, the media dictatorship is becoming a substitute to military dictatorship. The big economic groups are using the media and decide who can speak, who the good guy is and who the bad guy is."
Those economic elites and the superpowers they support, have reacted negatively to the creation of Telesur. US Congress passed legislation to allow the US Government to have a means for radio and images to be broadcast to Venezuela to counteract a supposed "anti-US attitude". Curiously, this judgement on the content of the new TV channel took place even before Telesur's first broadcast.
But US actor Danny Glover, civil rights activist and United Nations' Goodwill Ambassador, praised the launch of the new channel and dismissed the idea that the content would be "Anti-US".
Glover is one of the many advisors to the Latin American channel and reiterated that its programmes will aim to create a better understanding among the countries in the American continent.
Other advisors to the channel are historical figures from the worlds of literature, politics and social activism in Latin America, such as Nicaraguan poet Ernesto Cardenal, Uruguayan writer Eduardo Galeano, Argentinean film-maker Fernando Solanas and British intellectual Tariq Ali.