Miley begins dismantling public media by shutting down Telam

Miley begins dismantling public media by shutting down Telam

Buenos AiresArgentine news agency Telam, founded 78 years ago, was woken up on Monday by police. The agency's two buildings, in the San Telmo district of Buenos Aires, were closed, and all employees were notified, via email, that they had been “exempted from paying business debts” for seven days. Thus, the President of Argentina, Javier Miley, succeeded in activating the closure of one of the public companies that he repeatedly threatened to close, whether during the election campaign or last Friday, in his first speech as president before the Legislative Assembly. The Telam website is down and no content of the news agency can be accessed, which provided press information to about 3,000 subscribers, including national and international media. Miley also intends to shut down public radio and television, claiming that they, along with Tailam, constitute the main instruments of “Kirchnerian propaganda.”

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On Monday afternoon, agency workers and hundreds of people gathered in front of the company’s headquarters, which was still fortified by police officers, to express their rejection of the government’s attack, which they consider an assault on the right to obtain information. “As Argentines, it is a very serious problem for freedom of expression, because Telam covers the entire country and reaches places where other media do not,” Fernando Dondero, a journalist from the newspaper, told ARA. Page 12“As journalists, we stand in solidarity with more than 700 unemployed colleagues.” Two hours earlier, presidential spokesman Manuel Adorni announced in a press conference that the government would announce details of the plan to close the agency this week.

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Tailam, 78 years of service

With a staff of 755 journalists, photographers and other positions and with correspondents across the country – also in Antarctica – TELAM was born as Telenoticiosa Americana in 1945 on the initiative of Juan Domingo Peron, then Minister of Labor and Social Welfare. The goal was to deal with the information dominance of United Press International and the Associated Press, both American. The agency was initially set up as a mixed company of private and government capital, and little by little, it spread across the country until it covered the entire country. During the time of military dictatorships – during the 20th century, Argentina saw six – TELAM was intervened and many journalists were exiled, but it was never completely dismantled: in fact, during the Videla dictatorship, the military government turned it into a propaganda organ. Under democracy, various presidents have tried to intervene, liquidate or dilute it: the latest, Mauricio Macri, who in 2018 ordered the dismissal of 357 workers at Telam because he believed it was not only “too big,” but also “discredited,” because the dismissed “ “They mixed journalism with partisan propaganda.”

Along these lines, Javier Miley said several times that the public media constituted a “secret ministry of propaganda”, and accused it during the presidential election race of organizing a campaign of intimidation against his political space. But the arguments now are economic. The presidential spokesman defended this, saying: “This has nothing to do with pluralism of information or freedom of the press,” adding that “Telam suffered a loss estimated at 20 thousand million pesos.” The government has also suspended the so-called “official guidelines” in the media, that is, the budget line devoted to public interest announcements, such as the prevention campaign against dengue fever, a tropical disease that becomes more dangerous every summer in Argentina, or the country. Campaigns against gender violence.

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“Silencing the means of communication is an unprecedented situation in a democracy,” a union leader said at the rally in front of Telam on Monday. “We will not allow this. There are workers here who defend information sovereignty and the workplace, and I will defend this public news agency.” In what is starting to be a more than turbulent March in Argentina, unions and citizens opposed to Meli are calling for another general strike, while supporters of the new government on social media network

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