President Mauricio Macri’s administration today announced the State-run Digital Television System’s (TDA) will drop Venezuela-owned news TV channel Telesur from its grid in two weeks and suspend (it’s not specified for how long) Russia-owned Russia Today in 60 days. RT fans must be so disappointed.
Let’s clarify that this doesn’t mean Telesur will completely disappear from Argentine television. It will, however, no longer be broadcast through the TDA TV system, the free television service provided by the government.
According to DyN news agency, the decision is based on a need to free up some slots on TDA’s grid to include other channels requested by various provincial governments. For example, the province of Tierra del Fuego will take advantage of one of these open slots to include its administration’s TV channel under TDA programming.
And considering that Macri’s and Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro’s administrations are not very fond of each other right now, we’re not surprised Telesur got the boot.
Telesur President Patricia Villegas was not very happy about the decision: “While our goal is to make progress by adding [to the multiplicity of political opinions] and never subtracting or dividing, Mauricio Macri’s administration intends to make us dissappear,” she wrote on her Facebook page. Villegas also started a campaign on Twitter to accuse the government of censorship under the hashtags #NoNosCallarán (We Won’t Be Silenced) and #teleSURConArgentina (teleSURWithArgentina.)
— Patricia Villegas (@pvillegas_tlSUR) 8 de junio de 2016
While Argentine Public Media Department head Hernán Lombardi said that the decision was economically motivated — “this goes in line with the task we took upon ourselves for public media in terms of plurality and austerity,” he said — Public Communication Secretary Jorge Grecco had a different analysis: “Argentina was a partner prohibited from sharing our view [on Telesur]. [Telesur] was an interesting South American television project, but there was no pluralism,” he told La Nación in March.
The aforementioned decision also means cable operating companies in the country no longer have to include Telesur in their programming, which they were required to do by the now defunct AFSCA media watchdog starting in September 2010.