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Last Updated: Sunday, 24 July, 2005, 23:03 GMT 00:03 UK
First broadcast for Latin channel
By Iain Bruce
BBC News, Caracas

Picture taken during the recording of the first broadcasting of Telesur
Telesur is broadcasting to more than 20 countries
A new pan-Latin American TV channel, Telesur, has begun its first broadcast from the Venezuelan capital, Caracas.

It is backed by the governments of Venezuela, Argentina, Cuba and Uruguay who say they want it to promote Latin American integration.

Last week the House of Representatives voted to enable the US administration to begin broadcasting its own TV signals to Venezuela.

The US plan is intended to counter what it called anti-US propaganda.

A few minutes later than scheduled, just after midday Venezuelan time, Telesur's presenter, Patricia Villegas, welcomed viewers to "this new television station of the south".

In its first broadcast, the channel's president, Venezuelan communications minister, Andres Izarra, told viewers in as many as 23 Latin American countries that Telesur was not directed against the people of the US.

'Time for change'

The station was, he said, "erupting onto the international scene" to counter cultural imperialism, which he said had gone unchallenged in the region for 50 years.

Several international advisors to the new channel, including the Pakistani-British broadcaster and activist Tariq Ali, spoke against the attempts on Capitol Hill to get the US government to counter Telesur with broadcasts of its own.

But in a live telephone link, President Hugo Chavez expressed confidence that Telesur had "scored the first goal". The time had come for a big change, he said, and Telesur was part of that change.

The channel's first news programme began with a critical report on the failures of the mission in Haiti led by Brazil, followed by another on the plight of refugees in Colombia - a sign that it is not only in Washington that Telesur may be ready to ruffle feathers.

See the programmes available on Telesur

Venezuela sets up 'CNN rival'
28 Jun 05 |  Americas
CNN Latin rival launches network
25 May 05 |  Americas

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