Thursday, April 18, 2024

ARGENTINA | 02-03-2024 12:55

Milei announces he will close Argentina's state news agency Télam

President Javier Milei announced Friday that he would move to shutter Argentina’s state news agency Télam.

President Javier Milei announced Friday that he would move to shutter Argentina’s state news agency Télam.

The news, delivered in the president’s speech marking at the opening of normal sessions before the Legislative Assembly, met with cheers from Milei’s supporters, who see the state media outlet as supportive of Kirchnerism and Petronism.

"We are going to close the Télam agency, which has been used over the last few decades as a propaganda agency for Kirchnerism," he said, referring to former president Cristina Fernández de Kirchner and her political movement.

Milei said the agency is one of those "large political boxes that are simply places to generate militant employment."

The president did not provide details about the process of closing the media outlet, which was created 78 years ago.

Télam, which often covers news stories that other outlets do not report on, has been subject to criticism of bias for years. Over the past two decades, it has shifted its political line dependant on who is in power.

At the beginning of February, Milei’s government had decreed that the agency be placed under trusteeship for one year. The president sought to intervene in all state media in order to "modify the organisational and functional structure” of the organisations.

The measure affected public radio and television, the Télam agency, the educational portal, the Audiovisual Production Centre and the Argentine Audiovisual Bank of Universal Contents (BACUA).

With more than 700 employees, including administrative staff, journalists and photographers, the news service of the Télam agency broadcasts more than 500 cables per day with national information, as well as some 200 photographs and video, radio and social media content.

In 2018, during former president Mauricio Macri’s administration, it went through a traumatic downsizing with the dismissal of 357 workers, some of whom were later reinstated by court order.

According to its website, the news agency "is the only one in the country with a network of correspondents in all of the country's main cities and provinces.”

This regional role has taken on increasing importance following the 2017 closure of DyN (Agencia Diarios y Noticias) private news agency, which was heralded for its reporting in the nation’s more remote areas.

Télam's staff dismissed Milei's criticism, saying he was repeating the "same propaganda" used by Macri's 2018 government in ordering dismissals.

"The agency turned 78 years old last April 14, when it received greetings and congratulations for its performance throughout more than three-quarters of a century from politicians of different ideologies, personalities from the business, trade union, academic and human rights fields, among other points, including a special and personalised message from Pope Francis,"  read a statement from workers.

"It has more than 700 employees and faced in the past attempts of liquidation, closure, layoffs or cutbacks in the governments of Carlos Menem, Fernando de la Rua and Mauricio Macri," said staff in a statement that will do little to challenge claims of political bias.

They vowed that the agency “will not be closed” and to challenge Milei’s move to shutter its doors.




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