Television in Venezuela
Venezuelan Government Media
Venezuelan media Forum
Not to be confused with Canal Sur.
La Nueva Televisora del Sur is a pan-Latin American terrestrial and satellite television network headquartered in Caracas, Venezuela. TeleSUR was launched with the objective of providing information to promote the integration of Latin America and as a counterweight to large international medias such as CNN, Univision, BBC, TVE and Deutsche Welle.
Legal status, funding and structure
La Nueva Televisora del Sur, C.A. is, according to its website a public company which has Latin American governments as its sponsors. Its sponsors are the governments of Argentina, Bolivia, Cuba, Ecuador, Nicaragua, Uruguay and Venezuela. The channel's news agenda is 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 Perez 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 Tristan Bauer, free software pioneer Richard Stallman and US actor and activist Danny Glover. The network carries no commercial advertising.
Origins and US reaction
The proposed alternative Latin American television network that we know today as teleSUR took shape on January 24, 2005 as part of the projects approved in a council of ministers of the Venezuelan government
teleSUR began broadcasting on a limited four hour schedule on July 24, 2005, on the 222nd birthday of Latin American leader Simon Bolivar. A few hours later that day, Richard Lugar, then chairman of the United States Senate Committee on Foreign Relations began a "game of warnings and threats" against the new channel.
The network began full-time broadcasts on October 31, 2005. Just three days before the network began broadcasting, 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 Alvarez 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."
Incorporation process of the sponsor countries
The process of integration of Uruguay to teleSUR was long and controversial. Venezuelan president Hugo Chavez signed on March 3, 2005 several agreements with then-recently installed Uruguayan president Tabare Vazquez regarding the energetic and communicational integration of both countries, being one of them 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 Vazquez was a majority in the country's legislative branch. Venezuelan journalist Andres 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 Tabare Vazquez 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.
Controversies and criticism
Cooperation agreements with Al-Jazeera
In 2006 teleSUR announced agreements on exchange of audiovisual content and support coverage with the Qatar-based news channel Al-Jazeera.Nicholas Kozloff, CounterPunch, 22 January 2010, A Thorn in the Side of the U.S. Military in Haiti US Congressman Connie Mack IV, who had criticised the channel in the past, declared it heralded a "global television network for terrorists and other enemies of freedom". teleSUR's then-station manager, Uruguayan Aram Arahonian said in reaction to Mack's remarks that "we continue to believe in democracy, freedom of expression, and pluralism: all the values that are indispensable in any democracy. We don't have any problem making agreements with any organisation that is beneficial for our channel."
teleSUR agreements with other news organizations and media outlets like the BBC, IRIB, and CCTV were not criticized by Mack or any US government official.
Detentions and threats to journalists
Several teleSUR journalists have been threatened because of their journalistic work.
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 journalistic work on tortures 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.
Several teleSUR journalists have been criticized, threatened to get involved or have been involved in legal processes or have had their lives threatened by that nation's paramilitary groups. Some of them have been accused of being members of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) or being otherwise connected to the guerrilla group, which has been considered as terrorist by Colombia, the U.S. and the European Union. The editorial line of the channel treats the group as a "belligerent force" and as a valid Bolivarian political organization, in accordance to the Foro de Sao Paulo and its main financiers, Cuba and Venezuela.
Detention of Fredy Munoz Altamiranda
In late 2006, the then correspondent of teleSUR in the country, Fredy Munoz Altamiranda, was arrested on November 19 on charges of rebellion and terrorism. The journalist was accused of being "Jorge Eliecer", a leader of the FARC guerrilla group held responsible for various terrorist attacks. The prosecution cited the testimonies of jailed guerrillas against the journalist. Munoz'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 Eliecer" 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 being pressured to declare against Munoz by members of the Colombian Navy's intelligence branch.
Munoz 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." "Corresponsal de TeleSUR califica como un triunfo su salida de la carcel", TeleSURtv.net Munoz Altamiranda said that he feared for his life after being released due to subsequent threats.
Reporters Without Borders had questioned the evidence against Munoz 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. Comunicados de Reporteros sin Fronteras sobre situacion del periodista Fredy Munoz, Reportes sans frontieres, 2006-2007
Coverage of the 2009 Honduras coup
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 d'etat 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 Sivori 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 international community learned of the detention, the journalists and their staff were quickly released. Sivori was reportedly assaulted by the soldiers who detained her. teleSUR was, until the detention and quick release of journalist Sivori 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 studies of the channel 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 criticized the communique 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 denounced they were 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 that was covering the stay of President Manuel Zelaya, in the Brazilian Embassy in Tegucigalpa since his arrival on September 21, was 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 correspondent in Ecuador, Elena Rodriguez 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 his journalistic work for the channel.
The journalist had received death threats before.
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 have been very limited in Latin America because of the network's edtorial 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. For example, in Mexico there are half monopolies, Televisa and Television Azteca. In Argentina, almost everything is dominated by the Clarin group. In Brazil cable is very scarce, there are 3.5 million subscribers and 80 million people so it's quite marginal."
The availability of the channel via terrestrial television is very limited in the vast majority of Latin American countries. The only countries in the region that receives all teleSUR's broadcasts via terrestrial television are Venezuela and Ecuador, which governments are sponsors of the channel. 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). The network started in February 2008 to broadcast some news programming to Brazil in Portuguese through several community stations in the state of Parana. On September 27, 2009, teleSUR president Andres 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.
teleSUR's broadcasts in Cuba
Although teleSUR has Cuba as one of its main funders and suppliers of programming, the channel is not completely available for the citizens of the island. It was not until late 2007 that its programming is broadcasted daily in the island, but only from 10:30 pm until 8:00 am and through Canal Educativo 2, a educational TV channel of limited national coverage. Some of teleSUR's programming is broadcast in Cuba during the day on that channel but as a one-hour, highly-edited mix of its news and documentary programs 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".
teleSUR's programming is defined by a 'Strategic Programming Committee'. Unlike its competitors, teleSUR broadcasts, in addition to news and opinion programs, musicals and films.
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 'Alo Presidente': An abridged version of the program hosted by Venezuelan president Hugo Chavez in Venezuelan State TV.
Vision 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 conteporary Latin American social leaders and personalities, "developed with a critical and progressive view".
The networks' website has a weekly schedule of its programming.
Canal 24 Horas
CNN en Espanol
Minstry of Information and Communication of Venezuela
"'El' Jazeera", May 13, 2005 Alternet
"Venezuela Launches Cable News Station", July 18, 2005 ''NPR's Morning Edition
broadcast for Latin channel", July 24, 2005 BBC News
"New Latin American Television Network Telesur Officially Launched", July 26, 2005 Democracy Now!Features interview with Andres Izarra
"New Venezuelan TV network for Latin America outrages Washington", July 28, 2005 Pravda.ru''
"Venezuela's Telesur Cable News Network", August 2, 2005 ''NPR's Talk of the Nation''
"Latin Americas Telesur: The 'Al Jazeera' of the South", August 22, 2005
"TeleSUR transmitira en canal abierto en Nicaragua"
"Telesur tested by Chavez video", November 22, 2005 The Christian Science Monitor
"Venezuela sets up 'CNN rival'", August 14, 2006
"Telesur opens signal in Portuguese for Brazil" February 13, 2008
This article is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License. It uses material from the Wikipedia article TeleSUR