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Ecuadoran government not financing Venezuelan international news channel Telesur

Ecuadoran Secretary of Communication Andrés Michelena confirmed that new President Lenin Moreno’s government is not contributing economically to multi-state owned cable news channel Telesur, newspaper La Hora reported.

“We have met with the people from Telesur because we want to make a policy of open doors, where each reports the good things and criticizes the bad things,” Michelena said, according to La Hora.

The Associated Press reported that Telesur declined to comment on the situation.

The secretary said that Secom (the National Secretariat of Communication) was also looking into leaving channel Ciudadano TV, the official channel of the Ecuadoran Executive, according to El Comercio.

La Hora quoted an expert in freedom of expression, Martina Rapido, concerning the current government’s decision to not fund the channel. According to the newspaper, Rapido asked whether the country disposed of its shares. La Hora said it was waiting for a response from the Ministry of Finance for information about state contributions to the channel.

According to El Comercio, while Michelena originally understood the government of former President Rafael Correa had contributed to Telesur, he later said it was not the case. The publication added that former secretary of Communication Patricio Barriga, who served during the Correa government, said no economic contributions were given to the media. However, the former secretary said there was an agreement for operations and sharing content, according to El Comercio.

Telesur, launched in 2005 in Caracas, Venezuela, was an idea of former presidents Hugo Chavez of Venezuela and Fidel Castro of Cuba. According to its site, La Nueva Televisión del Sur (The New Television of the South, or teleSUR), “was founded to counter the corporate media and to be a voice for Latin Americans in the region and around the world.”

Ecuador joined Telesur in August 2007 during Correa's government, La Hora noted. Venezuela, Uruguay, Cuba, Nicaragua, Bolivia and Argentina were also partners.

La Hora noted that Telesur “served to broadcast a discourse aligned with these governments, whose ideological and political line it tried to spread and implement regionally through the so-called Bolivarian Alliance for the Peoples of Our America (ALBA), and to a certain extent, the Union of South American Nations (Unasur).”

The newspaper noted that in its history, “Telesur aired alleged documentaries against critics of the Correa regime and against Ecuadorian journalists.”

In March 2016, the Argentinian government, led by new President Mauricio Macri, announced it would give up its shares in Telesur. A few months later, the Argentinian government suspended Telesur’s signal from free-to-air digital TV in the country.



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