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The Venezuelan Council of Ministers approved on January 24th a decree creating Telesur, a satellite news channel intended to give a southern perspective to balance the information provided by the the dominating channel in Latin America, CNN in Spanish.

In a press conference held after shortly after the decree was approved, the Minister of Communication and Information, Andrés Izarra, explained that this new state-run communications company, Telesur, would be a crucial communication tool for the region and, "a force of integration, in which we hope that all the countries in the South participate."

He went on to add that, "We have decided to open this business as an autonomous company because it is the legal form that facilitates the signing of agreements, the sale of stocks, and the concretion of strategic alliances with other countries. The idea is that Telesur is not only a space for the voice of the South, for our own culture and idiosyncrasies, but also that it is a space of confluence for the communication of the South towards the world." For the moment, the Venezuelan government will be the only stockholder in the business, but negotiations are in the works with Brazil and Argentina, which will permit their participation in the near future.

During the program Communication in Times of Revolution that is transmitted every Wednesday by the state radio station RNV, Izarra announced that Brazil and Venezuela will sign an agreement for Telesur.

"There is an agreement that is going to be signed with the Brazilian Minister of Communication in order to give Telesur a legal base...there are some steps that have advanced in giving Telesur an organizational structure. We have also made progress in the equipment that this broadcaster will have."

Izarra explained the Telesur will be discussed in depth in the upcoming meetings in preparation for the next visit of Lula da Silva to Caracas, on February 14th. The Minister of Information and Communication also announced that he would travel this week to Argentina, preparing for the visit of Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez’s trip to Buenos Aires, after the Venezuelan President attends the World Social Forum in Porto Alegre, Brazil. It is also expected that Uruguay and Paraguay will commit to the project in the near future.

The transmissions of Telesur are tentatively scheduled to be initiated in the second half of March, according to the announcement made by Izarra two weeks ago, in the weekly television program Aló Presidente.

Many journalists and specialists from Colombia, Argentina, Uruguay and Venezuela, among other nations, also spoke on the program, emphasizing the importance of the new media and pointing out that it will create an alternate source of information for people fed up with corporate, neoliberal propaganda.

Telesur correspondents will be based in the following locations: Bogotá, Lima, Los Angeles, Buenos Aires, and Rio de Janeiro.

"I believe that it is very soon, before the end of the year, we will have Telesur up and running. We are working in order to achieve this. It will be an interesting contrast with the information that CNN in Spanish, the channel that has the most satellite power, transmits, and also with the rest of the international media that frequently airs biased and/or untruthful information which supports a particular political agenda," noted Izarra.