Telesur president Andres Izarra announced the possibility on Wednesday as he confirmed he would step down as Venezuela‘s information minister to head the recently created Latin channel, which President Hugo Chavez has promoted as an alternative to US media outlets like CNN.
“There is a possibility of reaching an agreement with Aljazeera, but our interest, more than anything, is in looking for greater diversity and deeper views on subjects,” Izarra said at a news conference.
He said a proposed “strategic alliance” with Aljazeera would be just like those with other international news agencies, and would aim to “search for more material, to seek a deepening of information that we wouldn’t obtain otherwise”.
Izarra said Aljazeera’s thorough coverage of the Middle East could be an asset if shared with Telesur. He also said Aljazeera’s plans for an English-language news channel would greatly enhance news distribution.
“There is a possibility of reaching an agreement with Aljazeera, but our interest, more than anything, is in looking for greater diversity and deeper views on subjects”
Telesur – which has no regular commercials and is also backed by Argentina, Uruguay and Cuba – began regular broadcasts on Sunday, transmitting news, documentaries and other programmes to various countries across Latin America.
The station has drawn concern in the US Congress, where House members last week approved a measure to transmit radio and television broadcasts if necessary as a
counterbalance to any anti-American messages.
Chavez, an outspoken critic of the US government and a close friend of Cuban leader Fidel Castro, regularly criticises US “imperialism”. But organisers of Telesur deny the channel will be a mouthpiece for Chavez and say it will support critical, independent journalism.
Izarra’s announcement that he would step down as information minister came after a station board member, English novelist and filmmaker Tariq Ali, said publicly that for the station to be truly effective it would need to be entirely independent.
“Once it was on the air, it was necessary to remove any direct influence of the Venezuelan government over the channel, in order to guarantee that it complies with its aims and ethical standards,” Izarra said.