A Venezuela-backed television station promising to be a Latin alternative to large media conglomerates will begin broadcasting live news reports within two weeks, the station's president said.
The Spanish-language Telesur channel in July began broadcasting recorded material including documentaries and other programs. It can be viewed in Argentina, Brazil, Bolivia, Colombia, Costa Rica, Cuba, Ecuador, El Salvador, Guatemala, the Dominican Republic, Uruguay and the United States.
Flanked by the network's foreign correspondents, Telesur president Andres Izarra told a news conference on Saturday that the channel will start live news programming Oct. 31.
Izarra said twelve correspondents will report from eight Latin American countries, including Argentina, Brazil, Colombia, Cuba, and Haiti, and Mexico. An additional reporter will be based in Washington.
The network is supported in part by the government of Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez, and also is backed by the governments of Argentina, Cuba and Uruguay. The station offers news programs, opinion shows, documentaries and Latin American films.
"We want to make Telesur a window to help push integration forward among our countries," Izarra said.
Izarra, who was Venezuela's information minister before moving to Telesur, said cable networks from countries throughout the world have expressed interest in collaborating with Telesur.
"We have received requests from various countries, Indonesia and Japan, among others ... However, we are going to focus on distribution mostly in Latin America and the United States," said Izarra, adding that US$12 million was invested for the network's initial launch and operations during its first year.
The station has drawn some concern in the U.S. Congress, where House members in July approved a measure to transmit American radio and television broadcasts if deemed necessary as a counterbalance to any anti-American messages.
But station managers have said Telesur will simply provide independent journalism from a Latin American perspective.
Telesur station manager Aram Ahoranian said critics had no basis for their attacks since the live programming still had not begun.
The station will have sponsors, but no commercials, Ahoranian said. It will broadcast public service announcements, such as spots on AIDS prevention, AP reported. V.A.