UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 SANTIAGO 001539
STATE FOR IIP/G/WHA, INR/R/MR, WHA/BSC, WHA/PDA, INR/IAA
AMEMBASSIES FOR PAO, IO
E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: OPRC, PREL, KMDR, KPAO, CI, VE, AR, BR, PE, UY
SUBJECT: VICE-PRESIDENT OF VENEZUELA'S "TELESUR" SPEAKS
TO CHILEAN JOURNALISTS
SENSITIVE BUT UNCLASSIFIED---PROTECT ACCORDINGLY
(U) Summary: The executive vice-president of
Venezuelan-Latin American TV Channel "Telesur," Aram
Aharonian, visited Chile July 8-11 to promote Venezuela's
regional TV project. Aharonian met with Minister-level
government spokesman Osvaldo Puccio on July 8, and spoke
to an audience of over 130 journalists at the annual
Professional Journalists' Association Congress (Colegio
de Periodistas) in the coastal city of Vina del Mar on
July 9. Although the details of Aharonian's agenda in
Chile have not been publicized, center-left "Diario
Siete" reported he was unable to meet with the executives
of Chile's principal cable television operator VTR. There
have been no government or private sector reactions or
comments regarding his visit. End summary.
(U) Mr. Aharonian gave a 30-minute presentation on
the proposed Latin American TV channel "Telesur" at the
July 9 closing session of the Professional Journalists'
Association Annual Congress in Vina del Mar. The
presentation included a 15-minute speech followed by a 15-
minute promo-tape. Both his remarks and the tape stressed
that "Telesur" was created to counter the hegemony of
large transnational media conglomerates "from the North,"
which present a black and white --"but mostly black--"
picture of the situation in the region.
(U) Aharonian underscored that "Telesur" was not a
government organization, but rather a "multinational
initiative financed by donations from participating
countries." Its goal is to build a bridge for Latin
American people to heighten understanding, highlight the
variety and richness of regional cultures, present a view
of the region from a Latin American perspective, and
provide a more informed vision of the reality of
countries in the region.
(U) The promo-tape contained several references on
the need to counter news coming from huge media
conglomerates serving elite political and economic
interests. The tape featured President Hugo Chavez,
Fidel Castro, rallies with red flags, and footage of U.S.
troops, as it posed questions such as: "Who prosecutes
U.S. soldiers involved in arms and narcotic trafficking?"
or "Discover the black strings behind Plan Colombia...."
(U) Approximately 130 journalists representing the 13
regional professional journalism associations in Chile
listened attentively to Aharonian's presentation.
However, due to the tight schedule, there was no exchange
of opinions, or Q&As. Therefore, except for polite
applause, there were no immediate reactions to
Aharonian's remarks. Aharonian was one of three speakers
invited to participate in the closing session of the
conference. There were no prominent Chilean journalists
from mainstream local media participating in the
discussion, and the press did not cover the closing
session of the conference.
(U) On July 9, center-left "Diario Siete" ran an
interview with Aharonian. In the interview, Aharonian
said he had met with government spokesman Osvaldo Puccio
on July 8, and that he had issued "the first invitation
to Chile to join the (Telesur) project," in the meeting
(U) The interview noted that Aharonian had arrived in
Chile from Peru on July 8, after a long meeting with
president Alejandro Toledo. Reportedly, as a result of
that meeting, Peru joined Venezuela, Argentina, Brazil
and other countries in support of the "Telesur"
initiative. "Diario Siete" reported that Aharonian would
depart Santiago on Monday, July 11, without meeting any
executives at Chile's main cable TV operator, VTR.
(SBU) Comment: The lack of a meeting with VTR
suggests "Telesur" is not getting much traction in Chile,
or is not ready to broadcast. In a conversation with an
Embassy press assistant, a senior VTR executive said that
VTR had no plans to incorporate "Telesur" its current
grid of channels available in Chile. He noted that VTR
had just implemented a major modification of its grid and
the addition of a new channel would imply zero-sum
elimination of a current signal. He also said that he
was not aware of any contact between VTR and
representatives of "Telesur." (Note: VTR is the largest
cable operation in Chile, with 92 percent of the
country's pay TV market. VTR is 80 percent owned by the
U.S. company UnitedGlobalCom, a subsidiary of Liberty
Media International. The remaining 20 per cent is owned
by Crotalarias Chile, owned by Chilean businessman
Ricardo Claro. End note.)