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ARGENTINA | 05-05-2024 16:27

Milei government shutters Télam's provincial outposts

Government moves ahead with "operational closure of correspondents" in 11 of the 23 provinces nationwideand the capital where the state news agency operates.

Argentina’s government has ordered the closure of 13 provincial outposts from the state news agency Télam, after suspending the company's activities in March in order to audit operations.

In a communiqué issued by the company's trustee, Diego Martín Chaher, and addressed to Télam employees and released to the press on Thursday, he called for the "execution of the operational closure of correspondent" offices in 11 of the 23 provinces and the capital where the state news agency operates.

The offices affected are in the provinces of Chaco, Buenos Aires, Entre Ríos, La Pampa, Misiones, Río Negro, Salta, Santa Fe, Córdoba, Corrientes and Mendoza.

Presidential Spokesperson Manuel Adorni told a press conference on Friday that "if the agency is closed because the workers are on leave, it makes no sense to have correspondents in the interior of the country.”

“It is simply a question of common sense,” he added.

On March 3, President Javier Milei’s government had suspension of Télam's operations, excused its workers from their duties and fenced off two of its offices in the capital, Buenos Aires.

Milei has been a vocal critic of Argentina’s state news agency, describing the 78-year-old institution as an instrument "of propaganda.”

Since then, the agency's website has been taken down with a notice saying "page under reconstruction,” while a number of former employees have opened up their own site: somostelam.com.ar.

The shuttering of the state news agency was accompanied by the cancellation of all weekend news broadcasts and the suspension of nearly all live programming across public television channels. 

In addition, overtime and holiday pay has been cut at Radio Nacional, Argentina’s public radio station. Almost 50 stations across the interior of the country had to cancel weekend programming and rebroadcast programmes from Buenos Aires.

A report by the Reporters Without Borders media watchdog this week said that Argentina had dropped 26 places to 66th place in its global press freedom ranking.

"The situation is particularly worrying in Argentina following the arrival to power of President Javier Milei, whose aggressive stance towards journalism hinders pluralism," the report said.

At the beginning of February, Milei’s government had decreed that Télam be placed under trusteeship for one year. The President intervened in the running of all state media in order to "modify the organisational and functional structure” of the bodies.

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

 

– TIMES/AFP
 

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