Telesur (TV channel)
|Launched||July 24, 2005|
|Owned by||Governments of Venezuela, Cuba, Ecuador, Bolivia, Nicaragua and Uruguay|
|Picture format||480i, 4:3 (SDTV)|
|Slogan||Nuestro norte es el Sur
("Our north is the South")
Portuguese (for Brazil only)
|Affiliates||Venezolana de Televisión
TV Pública Digital
Uruguay National Television
|Local UHF Venezuela||Channel 43 (Puerto La Cruz)
Channel 46 (Valencia)
Channels 49, 51 (Caracas)
Channel 51 (Barquisimeto)
|Channel 21 (Quevedo, Riobamba, Salinas)
Channel 22 (Ambato, Manta, Portoviejo)
Channel 23 (Cuenca, Loja)
Channel 34 (Guayaquil)
Channel 48 (Quito)
|Astra 1L Europe||11068 V / 22000 / 5/6|
|Hispasat 1C||10890 V / 27500 / 3/4|
|Hot Bird Europe||11727 V / 27500 / 3/4|
|SES-6 Americas||4119 R / 2960 / 3/4 (SD)|
|SES-6 Americas||4139 R / 4165 / 2/3 (HD)|
|Digital+ Spain||Channel 156|
|DirecTV All South America||Channel 722|
|Movistar TV Digital Venezuela||Channel 131|
|Telefónica TV Digital South America||Channel 451|
|TV Vlaanderen Digitaal Belgium||Channel 303|
|Sky Digital||Channel 916|
|Venesat-1 Americas||23000? V / 259? / 260?|
|Galaxy 19 Americas||Channel 60|
|Cabovisão Portugal||Channel 133 (digital)|
|Cable Mágico Perú||Channel 102 (analog)
Channel 814 (digital)
|Estesa Nicaragua||Channel 97|
|Intercable Venezuela||Channel 76|
|NetUno Venezuela||Channel 14|
|teleSURtv.net||teleSUR Videos: Live news and high quality recordings database|
Telesur (stylised as teleSUR) is multi-State funded, pan–Latin American terrestrial and satellite television network sponsored by the governments of Venezuela, Cuba, Ecuador, Nicaragua, Uruguay, and Bolivia that is headquartered in Caracas, Venezuela. Telesur was launched with the objective of providing information to promote the integration of Latin America.
- 1 Legal status, funding and structure
- 2 History
- 3 Controversies
- 4 Distribution
- 5 Programming
- 6 Reception
- 7 See also
- 8 References
- 9 External links
Legal status, funding and structure
La Nueva Televisora del Sur, C.A. is a public company which has various Latin American governments as its sponsors. Its primary sponsor is the Government of Venezuela while other governments such as Cuba, Ecuador, Nicaragua, Uruguay, and Bolivia contribute as well; formerly, Argentina was its second main sponsor.
The channel's news agenda was originally dictated by its Board of Directors with the aid of an advisory council, which is formed by many international and regional leftist intellectuals, including Nobel Peace Prize winner Adolfo Pérez Esquivel, poet Ernesto Cardenal, writers Eduardo Galeano, Tariq Ali, Saul Landau, editor-in-chief of Le Monde diplomatique and historian Ignacio Ramonet, Argentine film producer Tristán Bauer, free software pioneer Richard Stallman and US actor and activist Danny Glover. The network carries no commercial advertising.
The founder of Telesur was Aram Aharonian, a journalist and scholar who left Uruguay due to right-wing pressure. Aharonian stated that the idea of Telesur was "to see ourselves as we truly were", stating that he sought more diversity in the media. After Aharonian resigned from his position as the network's director in 2013, he commented in a 2014 interview that Telesur "did not achieve latinamericanization and continued to be Venezuelan".
The proposed alternative Latin American television network that would become Telesur took shape on January 24, 2005, as part of the projects approved in a council of ministers of the Venezuelan government. According to The Boston Globe, Venezuelan president Hugo Chávez, whom they described as a "media savvy, forward-thinking propagandist," was able to fund 70% of Telesur's functions while also providing broadcasting facilities, with other leftist governments supporting the network as well, advertising it "as a Latin socialist answer to CNN." Telesur began broadcasting on a limited, four-hour schedule on July 24, 2005, on the 222nd birthday of Latin American leader Simón Bolívar. The network began full-time broadcasts on October 31, 2005.
Incorporation process of the sponsor countries
The process of integration of Uruguay to Telesur was long and controversial. On March 3, 2005 Venezuelan president Hugo Chávez signed several agreements with then-recently elected Uruguayan president Tabaré Vázquez regarding the energetic and communicational integration of both countries, one of them being the joint creation and financing of Telesur. After just under a year of signing the agreements, they had not been carried out, although the party of President Vázquez was a majority in the country's legislative branch. Venezuelan journalist Andrés Izarra, president of Telesur, confirmed in an interview in January 2006 the delay in the approval of the full incorporation of the country to the network: "There is a special situation (in Uruguay), because although the country is a member of Telesur, until their Congress does not approve it, we can't broadcast the channel locally or receive government funding. The situation requires a political decision and we hope that the government of Tabaré Vázquez support the initiative". The president of the Uruguayan Deputies' Education Commission, Jorge Brovetto confirmed in February of that year the country still wasn't part of the network's sponsors and asked that, until the parliament has not decided on a final status, the removal of the country's name as sponsor from its promotions and the website. In June of that year, and as the nation's Minister of Education and Culture, Brovetto expressed worries regarding the network's editorial line on certain issues and governments in the region, and how the diplomacy of his country could be affected by it. Uruguay's Chamber of Senators approved the bill that would ratify the agreements on August 8, 2006 by votes of the legislators belonging to ruling party, but the Chamber of Deputies postponed several times the debate on the draft. Although sources close to the Congress told the press in February 2009 that the issue of incorporation to Telesur "was not a priority item in their agenda", and that the issue would not be discussed during the remainder of that year, the agreement was finally ratified on June 2, 2009.
While promoting an ad campaign for the Government of Venezuela, Telesur used a photo on Twitter of Miami Herald reporter Jim Wyss arriving at the Miami International Airport after being arrested by Venezuelan authorities and interrogated by SEBIN, with the Telesur Twitter campaign stating, "We love Venezuela for receiving foreigners like one of our own." The incident became popular in the international media since they found the use of the photo ironic due to the circumstances surrounding it. Telesur later removed the photo from their Twitter.
Americas director of Human Rights Watch, Jose Miguel Vivanco, opposed the creation of Telesur. In 2005, Vivanco stated, "If the shareholders of this company belong to a government like Cuba where they have no basic concept of free speech and zero tolerance for independent views, God help us". Human Rights Watch also criticized the Venezuelan government in 2008 for preventing the freedom of expression of private media by blocking their expansion while strengthening the presence of Telesur and other government media in the country. Telesur has criticized human rights arguing in an article titled How Human Rights Sell War that "the industry and ideology of human rights has been used to justify imperialism and undermine the European and North American left".
Following the election of Mauricio Macri as President of Argentina, Macri and Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro engaged in disputes over Venezuela's human rights, with the Argentine government later pulling its funding of Telesur in March 2016 alleging that Telesur "blocks alternative viewpoints".
Journalists and staff
Fredy Muñoz Altamiranda
In late 2006, the then correspondent of Telesur in Colombia, Fredy Muñoz Altamiranda, was arrested on November 19 on charges of rebellion and terrorism. The journalist was accused of being "Jorge Eliécer", a leader of the FARC guerrilla group held responsible for various terrorist attacks. The prosecution cited the testimonies of jailed guerrillas against the journalist. Múñoz's defense argued that the testimonies which implicated him were inconsistent and denounced procedural irregularities after the moment of his arrest. One of the jailed guerrillas claimed that "Jorge Eliécer" suffered several burns on his body due to an accidental bomb explosion. According to Telesur, the journalist was subjected to physical analysis which determined that there were no injuries in his body matching those described by the witness, and another guerrilla later stated he had been pressured to declare against Múñoz by members of the Colombian Navy's intelligence branch.
Múñoz was released on January 10, 2007, after which he declared that "when I left the prison, less than an hour after leaving, two agents visited the jail and asked in an aggressive manner to officials of the prison where I was going to [and] what was my itinerary after leaving prison." Muñoz Altamiranda said that he feared for his life after being released due to subsequent threats. Reporters Without Borders had questioned the evidence against Múñoz and called his imprisonment an "outrage" and an "abuse", arguing that the Colombian government could be acting against press freedom if the journalist had been jailed due to his work or because of past Telesur interviews with Colombian guerrillas. The Inter American Press Association also criticized his detention and asked for the respect of due process.
Noted Colombian journalist William Parra, a former Reuters correspondent, worked for Telesur full-time from 2006 to 2008. He was forced to seek political asylum in Venezuela after being charged with links with the FARC. He denies the accusations, and said in September 2010 that his lawyers had received death threats.
Telesur correspondent in Argentina, Edgardo Esteban, was awakened the morning on September 11, 2008, by the detonation of a homemade bomb of low intensity in front of his home. The journalist had received several threats because of his work on torture and corruption of Argentine military during the Falklands War. The Latin American Federation of Journalists, the Forum of Argentine Journalism and the Inter American Press Association expressed its rejection to any situations that put at risk the life of the journalist and demanded from the national and provincial authorities to work "so that intimidation against journalists will not happen again". Esteban expressed concern for his life and his family after the attack.
Telesur correspondent in Ecuador, Elena Rodríguez, was beaten and robbed in Quito on September 19, 2009, by a group of three people who left a pamphlet in which she received death threats because of her journalistic work for the channel. The journalist had received death threats before.
2009 Honduras coup coverage
A group of Telesur and Venezuelan state media journalists were in Honduras on 28 June 2009 to cover the events in relation to a non-binding referendum on the possibility of changes to the constitution of Honduras. As soon as they learned that soldiers of the Honduran military ousted President Manuel Zelaya in a coup and exiled him to Costa Rica the staff stayed in the country to cover all events after the coup.
A day after the coup Telesur journalist Adriana Sívori and the crew that was accompanying her was arrested by the military with several other international journalists under threat, and retained their passports. As soon as the world learned of the detention, the journalists and their staff were quickly released. Sívori was reportedly assaulted by the soldiers who detained her. Telesur was, until the detention and quick release of journalist Sívori the only international channel that was broadcasting live the unrest in the streets of Tegucigalpa. The coverage of the coup by the channel, according to supporters of ousted President Manuel Zelaya and several social and sindical organizations, was essential to make the world and, to some extent, the Honduran people know "without censorships" the situation in the country and President Zelaya's whereabouts.
On June 30, several social organizations and journalistic unions in Venezuela took part in a march to the channel's studios in solidarity with the journalists.
On July 12, the Telesur crew, which were working together with the Venezuelan state media's were arrested at dawn by police in the hotel where they were staying. After a rigorous review of their documents and after being warned that if they continued their work in the country their personal safety was at risk the crews were released but banned from leaving the hotel. The teams decided to leave the country after concluding that it was not possible to continue their work. Telesur sent a press statement expressing that the channel would make "further efforts to ensure accurate, timely and uncensored accurate information for the world and for the Honduran people, in such a complex historical circumstances." The Latin American Federation of Journalists, the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights and the Inter American Press Association condemned what they considered an attempt to stifle the free flow of information on the situation in the country.
Telesur criticised the communiqué published by the Inter American Press Association, claiming that "it underestimates with great severity the risks to the life of the teams of reporters and technicians in Honduras by the threats of the repressive forces of a government unrecognized by several international organizations and countries in the world", the "implicit legitimacy" given to the de facto government and the criticizing of the governments of Venezuela and Nicaragua, sponsors of the channel, for allegedly "restricting press freedom".
On September 25, Telesur journalists claimed they had been attacked with high-frequency radiation and mind-altering gas along with other international journalists accompanying Manuel Zelaya during his entrenchment in the Brazilian embassy after returning to the country on Sept. 21.
Telesur reported on October 9 that their media staff who were covering the stay of President Manuel Zelaya in the Brazilian Embassy in Tegucigalpa since his arrival on September 21, were forced to leave by "the progressive deterioration of their health due to a systematic plan of repression carried out by the de facto authorities".
Telesur is available free-to-air via satellite to Latin America, the United States, Western Europe, and Northern Africa. The network's availability through cable television has been very limited in Latin America because of the network's editorial approach to several events and governments in the region; the station manager in 2007, Aram Arahonian said in an interview that "cable owners do not provide us with any access [...] it's not frequent, but it has affected us in the large countries.
According to Christopher Walker of the US government-funded National Endowment for Democracy, in the Journal of Democracy, Telesur is described as Venezuela's "authoritarian media outlet" that has the ability to take advantage of both domestic and foreign media due to the censorship under regimes in native countries and the openness of democratic nations to which it broadcasts.
The availability of the channel via terrestrial television is very limited in the vast majority of South American countries. The only countries in the region that receive all of Telesur's broadcasts via terrestrial television are Venezuela and Ecuador, whose governments are sponsors of the channel. Telesur is currently available via Digital Terrestrial Television in Argentina, as part of the Government-sponsored channel line-up which includes several other public service, educational, music, sports, and news channels. Venezuela started broadcasting Telesur via terrestrial television on February 9, 2007 and Ecuador on July 15, 2009. The rest of the sponsor countries broadcast some of the networks' programs, mainly the news, in their public and educational channels (see list of sister channels).
Although Telesur has Cuba as one of its main funders and suppliers of programming, the channel is not completely available in the country. It was not until late 2007 that its programming is broadcast daily on the island, but only from 22:30 until 8:00 the following day via Canal Educativo 2, a educational television channel. From 20 January 2013, live simulcasting of Telesur has been extended and now occurs daily from 20:00 until 16:30. Until January 2013 some of Telesur's programming was broadcast in Cuba during the day on that channel but as a one-hour, highly edited mix of its news and documentary programmes titled 'Lo mejor de Telesur' (The Best of Telesur). and, depending on the topic in the program, Mesa Redonda Internacional, a news and opinion program that's produced for Telesur by the Cuban Institute of Radio and Television. According to the Swedish analyst Nathan Shachar, in this way, the Cuban government censors any information that is not to the liking of its "political system", which includes "free elections, multiparty, strikes and protest movements that are non-existent on the island".
On September 27, 2009, Telesur president and Venezuelan official Andrés Izarra announced an agreement with public TV stations in Mozambique, Angola and Guinea Bissau to broadcast some of the channel programming in Portuguese in the context of the Second Africa-South America Summit, held in Venezuela.
Additional language versions
As part of the U.S. media coverage of the 2014 Venezuela protests and after his interview with Christiane Amanpour for CNN, President Nicolas Maduro announced on March 8 that on July 24, coinciding with Simón Bolívar Day, Telesur would launch in English, French and Portuguese.
In July 2014, an English Telesur website was launched. A 24-hour broadcast channel started in July 2015.
- Sones y Pasiones: Documentary program about Latin American music and its performers.
- Vamos a Conocernos: Brief information about the geography, culture and history of Latin American countries.
- Vidas: Program on people who are exceeded in several areas despite the poverty and hardships in their communities.
- Memorias del Fuego: Documentary program which broadcasts independent documentaries about contemporary Latin America.
- Destino Latinoamérica (Destination Latin America): A series of programs about Latin American tourist destinations.
- América, Tierra Nuestra (America, Our Land): Documentaries about Latin American culture and folklore.
- Contravía: Documentary program about social and political situation in Colombia, hosted by journalist Hollman Morris.
- Documenta ABN: Documentary programs produced by the Bolivarian News Agency.
- Alerta Verde (Green Alert): Documentary program about the deterioration of Latin American ecosystem in several countries.
- En vivo desde el SUR (Live from the South): Live individual interviews related to the most important news of the day, hosted by Colombian journalist Patricia Villegas on weekdays at night.
- Historia de las Ciudades (The History of the Cities): Documentary program about the history of Latin American cities
- SoloCortos.com: brief audiovisual works created by Latin American directors.
- CineSUR: Latin American independent cinema.
- Agenda del Sur: Live morning news and talk show.
- Cubanos en primer plano (Cubans in the foreground): Biographies of Cuban personalities.
- De este lado: Political and social analysis program produced in Mexico and hosted by journalist Blanche Petrich
- Resumen 'Aló Presidente': An abridged version of the program hosted by Venezuelan president Hugo Chávez in Venezuelan State TV.
- Visión 7 Internacional: International news and analysis broadcast Saturdays live from Buenos Aires on Argentina's Canal 7. This program was also simulcasted on Telesur.
- Mediotanque: A program about culture and folklore of Uruguay.
- Videoteca contracorriente (Counterflow videotheque): Interviews with contemporary Latin American social leaders and personalities, "developed with a critical and progressive view".
In 2005 after Telesur was founded, it was described as being a network showing the diversity of Latin America. Telesur also "won praise for its high production values and its intensive reporting about Latin America for Latin Americans". After 2007 however, some began to believe that Telesur appeared to be a propaganda tool for Hugo Chávez and his Bolivarian Revolution, with the network being described as "a mouthpiece for Chávez". According to Aram Aharonian, the founder of Telesur, Chávez "took the reins" of Telesur and used "propaganda as rolling news", with Aharonian being removed from Telesur in December 2008 by former Venezuelan Minister of Popular Power for Communication and Information Andres Izarra. The network has also been described as having leftist views representing its sponsorship nations; Argentina, Bolivia, Cuba, Nicaragua, Uruguay and Venezuela. Joel D. Hirst, a former International Affairs Fellow in Residence of the Council on Foreign Relations, stated that the Bolivarian Alliance for the Peoples of Our America (ALBA), knowing the importance of propaganda, "embarked upon an ambitious plan to control information across the hemisphere" and began their plan with the creation of Telesur in 2005.
According to Telesur, a few hours after their founding, Richard Lugar, then chairman of the United States Senate Committee on Foreign Relations, began a "game of warnings and threats" against the new channel. Three days before Telesur began broadcasting 24 hour programs, the United States House of Representatives included an amendment to Resolution 2601 introduced by Connie Mack IV, a Republican from Florida's 14th congressional district, which tentatively authorized "to fund activities which support political parties, the rule of law, civil society, an independent media, and otherwise promote democratic, accountable governance in Venezuela." The Venezuelan government replied to the U.S. reaction through its ambassador in Washington, D.C., Bernardo Álvarez saying that "in Venezuela there are 48 channels of free access to anyone with a television set and a small antenna. Only two of them belong to the government. You can also receive more than 120 channels from four continents." The chairman of the US Broadcasting Board of Governors, which runs Voice of America broadcasts in Latin America, Walter Isaacson said that the US could not be "out-communicated" by what he called enemies such as Telesur.[better source needed]
In June, 2016, the Argentine government announced that it would no longer support Telesur broadcasting. Thus Argentina became the first founding member of Telesur to discontinue such participation, although Telesur content is still widely available in Argentina via internet.
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- Telesur will have English, French and Portuguese versions | NexTV Latam
- Telesur English Interview
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These clips bolster critics who claim the network is and will be a propaganda tool for Chávez.
- Hirst, Joel D. "The Bolivarian Alliance and the Hugo Chavez Propaganda Machine". Council on Foreign Relations. Retrieved 10 June 2015.
- "Ataques a Telesur" (in Spanish). Telesur. 20 November 2006. Archived from the original on July 16, 2011. Retrieved 21 January 2009.
- "Congressman works to counter socialist air time". Connie Mack's HOR website. 21 July 2005. Retrieved 21 January 2009.
- "US House of Representatives Resolution 2601". The Library of Congress. 2005. Retrieved 4 June 2017.
- Carlos Chirinos (22 July 2005). "¿TV Martí para Venezuela?" [TV Marti for Venezuela?] (in Spanish). BBC Mundo. Retrieved 18 January 2009.
- BBG Chairman Walter Isaacson remarked that the US could not afford to be "out-communicated" by enemies such as Telesur.
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