The Télam agency and its transition from a mixed company to a state-owned company

The historic Bolívar headquarters at 500.

Last June issue, the newspaper “From Boedo” published an interesting account of the official news agency Télam in line with its transformation into a purely official media on 24 June 1968 during the reign of de facto president Juan Carlos Onganía appearing two years earlier as a result of the civil-military coup that took place removed the first radical judge Arturo Umberto Illia.

The note, written by the director of “From Boedo”, Mario Horacio Bellocchio, recalls that “In the mid-nineteenth century, news agencies emerged as a communication need for the Nation-State – a comprehensive center for receiving information from correspondents – that they demonstrated material to their subscribers. use their own selection criteria – and at the time, comfortable. In fact, the first institutions to serve colonialism today by adhering, during those years, to the new criteria of information monopoly – inform what works for me, where and when it suits me – Thus was born Agence France-Presse (AFP) in France; EFE in Spain; Reuters in the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland; Wolff, more recently by Bernhard Wolff, in Germany; ANSA in Italy, and the Associated Press in the United States. , among others”.

The material was of great interest to me, even though I already knew most of what was presented there from the time I worked on it from 1971 until my recent retirement in 2019, albeit with intermediate layoffs like the stage of the self-styled genocide “Reorganization Process”. National”.

As Bellocchio relates, “In early 1945, Colonel Juan Domingo Perón–then Secretary of Labor and Welfare of the de facto government of Edelmiro Julián Farrell–felt the need to have a national body that would provide its own information to avoid the hegemony of US agencies such as the United Press. International” (UPI) and “Associated Press” (AP) which have a monopoly on the provision of information, including those from our own country”.

Thus “On April 14, 1945, Colonel Perón decided to lay the foundation of our own agency Télam (American Telenoticia). Just 75 years have passed since the historic date in the contradictory moments in which Télam rose from the ashes of the macrista fire while the world – and our country in particular – was struggling amid a pandemic with unforeseen consequences.

The information that appears in “From Boedo” is worthy of reading for the general public and journalists in particular, as it demonstrates the relationship between the different interests at stake between the media, the state and business, to which I would add that it all began when, in the early 17th century , the first private newspaper appeared, “La Gazzetta del Veneto”, in a situation where Venice was a major center of European trade.

That is why “The agency was not wholly state-owned in the beginning, but rather started as a mixed private and legal capital company. Its first director was Jerónimo Jutronich, who was in charge of forming a team of journalists, some of the proven staff of the National Information Agency (ANDI), another institution – small life – which the Argentine State founded in 1944”.

SE web

“Télam began broadcasting information on October 12, 1945, but it was not until 1948 that he was able to realize the formation of a national coverage network by signing the first contracts with journalists from within the country, who sent news to newsrooms by telegram or by email.telephone. Until then, it only had its headquarters in the City of Buenos Aires and expanded its activities in that area”, recalls Bellocchio.

Then “The company experienced various ups and downs during the de facto reign of ‘La Libertadora’ and has only recently begun to stabilize during the reign of Arturo Frondizi. On 30 July 1959, Bernabé Villegas, Adolfo Garino and Blas Calaro, among others, resulted in changes to the law in the agency that became “Télam Sociedad Anónima, Periodística, Radiofónica, Cinematografía, Comercial, Inmobiliaria y Financiera”.

Within this framework, “President of the Nation’s decision permits the company recently with changes to its laws to operate under new conditions. During the 1960s, Télam attracted many clients, including four Buenos Aires television channels and major newspapers such as Clarin. The agency started transmitting news via telex channels, a fact that reached more points in the country in less time.”

But not everything went well and that’s how serious problems started. Télam “has processed false information and trends which because of their nature and scope threaten public order and the peace of the population, and it is the Government’s firm intention to eliminate any factors that may interfere with the electoral process, by exercising powers concerning the election process during the term of office. from a state of siege”, punishing the de facto government of José María Guido, decreeing the closure of the agency on 30 May 1963.

And came the day like today, 52 years ago, when “On June 24, 1968, Télam became a state company -under the dictatorship of Juan Carlos Onganía-, when the Government acquired all shares through the Secretariat of Dissemination and Tourism. In parallel, the legal framework new is required for all advertising companies and public bodies outside the transmission and agency transmission, a decision that affects the company to produce its own resources”.

“Then, the so-called ‘National Reorganization Process’ carried out by the last civil-military-ecclesiastical dictatorship (1976-1983) sometimes marked the harsh censorship regime in Télam in addition to the loss of three of its workers. . When Raúl Alfonsín’s constitutional government arrived, it was also possible to verify the disappearance of most of the company’s journalistic and photographic archives. The three missing are pastors Héctor Jesús Ferreiros, Célica Gómez and Alejandro Martín Almeida, son of Taty Almeida, an outstanding human rights defender. It should be borne in mind that on the morning of the coup, a large list of people barred from entry appeared at the door.

The publication “From Boedo” also recalls that “In 1984, the private institutions Noticias Argentinas’ (NA) and the now disbanded ‘Diarios y Noticias’ (DyN) (2017) publicly requested the closure of Télam.
Carlos Saúl Menem ordered the intervention of the company in 1992 and its liquidation two years later, but in 1996 he overturned the liquidation decision to replace it with a new one with his signature and from the Minister of Economy, Domingo Felipe Cavallo, who left Télam without one of his main sources of income by dismantling the monopoly of official advertising”.

However, the problems do not stop there because “Télam continues to carry out its function as an advertising agency. In 2000, the government of Fernando de la Rúa once again announced the closure of the advertising and sales area of ​​the agency’s headquarters, Bolívar 531, in the city of Buenos Aires, an act that did not materialize. The following year all public communication media are unified, with the agency working with LS82 TV Channel 7 and LRA Radio Nacional, in the National Public Media System; in 2002 it restored its status as an independent company”, explaining that “Currently, the institution is a State Enterprise (SE) whose shareholder is the Media Secretary, who is in charge of appointing the board of directors”.

During recent years “Since Hernán Lombardi was appointed head of the Federal System of Media and Public Content, during the administration of Mauricio Macri, budget cuts have been made and cases of censorship of journalists’ work have been reported. In total, 357 people were fired, about 40% of the factory. The massive layoff rocked newsrooms around the world, echoing the news. Meanwhile, laid-off workers took over two company buildings and a series of activities were carried out to make the conflict visible and achieve the recovery of 357 people.” Something that ends up in a labor court.

Leo Cow Photo
Photo: Leo Vaca

“With a change of political sign, on 10 December 2019, Rodolfo Pousá, his president until then, suddenly left, and therefore the registration of Bernarda Llorente as his successor. Journalists, producers and political scientists have performed this function informally, since Alberto Fernández became president.

Llorente said on his first birthday as head of the company: ‘Agent Télam celebrates 75 years. Juan Domingo Perón created it with the aim of having his own voice in the world. The history of Télam is, above all, an informative history of the sovereign project. Despite repeated attempts to empty it, censor it and even turn it off.

Over these 75 years, it will be seen in the largest journalistic content production agency in Latin America, and the second largest in Spanish-speaking. This warning puts us in the midst of a pandemic and today, more than ever, it is imperative to reach every corner of Argentina’s territory with verified information and tools for citizens who can address complex and highly uncertain realities.”

“Télam will restore a place that should never have been lost. Today we are going through the recovery process based on the decision of the National State to recover its main wealth: its workers, their experience and commitment. By the time we arrived, Télam was already destroyed. They tried to set up a parallel agency with some people in Tecnópolis and left the workers in other offices (on Bolívar Street and Belgrano Street), where they closed the floor; equipment has been removed. They try to take from people the dignity and pride of being a part of this agency.”

“With the belief that the State also performs and defends sovereignty with the day-to-day work of honest reporting and with journalistic rigor with a plurality of voices and collective representation, to help build a more just society and a better democracy.”

It should be noted that “Télam’s expense calculations are part of the Argentine State’s global budget, although the agency also generates its own revenue from advertising and through the sale of its information services to its more than 2,800 customers.”

Sophie Wilkinson

"Subtly charming web junkie. Unapologetic bacon lover. Introvert. Typical foodaholic. Twitter specialist. Professional travel fanatic."

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