Fears for future of public media in Argentina after Télam shuttered

7th March 2024
Journalists and press unions went a strike on 5 March in protest against the decision to close down the national news agency.
Buenos Aires Argentina
Header Image: Panoramic aerial view of Downtown Buenos Aires, Argentina Credit: diegograndi/iStock


  • Argentina’s new President has shut down the country’s national news agency, Télam, putting 700 jobs in jeopardy.
  • Javier Milei promised during his election campaign that he would oversee a dramatic shrinking of the state, which would also see the country’s public media sector dissolved or privatised.
  • 2024 has already been brutal for public media workers, with 600 jobs cut at Radio Nacional.
  • It appears likely Milei will now turn his attention to privatising both Radio Nacional and La TV Pública.


The Public Media Alliance is fearful for the future of public service media in Argentina, with President Javier Milei progressing quickly to dismantle the different branches of the sector.

On Monday, journalists at the national news agency, Télam, were given confirmation it had been shut down, the AFP reported. The next morning, the agency’s headquarters were surrounded by police. The website remains down.

Read more: Increased pressure on public media in Argentina

Before his election, Milei became globally renowned for a picture of him wielding a chainsaw – a pictorial illustration of what he intended to do in office to government departments and public services. Included within his proposal for a radical and drastic shrinking of the state was the promise to privatise the country’s public media.

Public media an early target for Milei

During the few months he has been in office, Milei has attempted to make good on this promise, with France 24 reporting that tens of thousands of public sector jobs have already been cut.

Public media organisations such as Télam, and the separate national TV and national radio networks – La TV Pública (TVP) and Radio Nacional – have already faced significant pressures during his short time in office.

In January, police were installed outside all public media offices. The union, SiPreBA, said they were “concerned about the climate of violence caused by these events, their impact on freedom of expression, the right to communication and democracy.”

At the start of March, the new head of the national radio – appointed by Milei – dismissed 100 workers from the organisation, whose contracts were running out in February and March. They followed the 500 other radio staff who had been fired in January.

“We need to make a cultural change, for the public media to stop losing so much money”, an official source told Clarín, promising the organisation would eventually begin to recruit again, “although we are in a difficult economic situation since there is no money.”

One option which looks likely for Radio Nacional is that it will start to host advertisements, as a way of generating additional revenue.


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Privatisation the next step?

But long-term, it appears the future of all these institutions is their eventual privatisation. According to La Política, the target is to get Télam down to just 80 employees so it can then be sold off (while also setting up a residual entity to keep some staff employed to avoid having to pay compensation).

In addition, Página 12 reported that in the subsequent days after closing down Télam, Milei ‘liked’ a number of posts from libertarian users who promoted the privatisation of TVP and Radio Nacional, as well as the science and research agency, Conicet.

“We need to make a cultural change, for the public media to stop losing so much money.” – Government Official

Journalists, unions, and others have spoken out in defence of Télam. A nationwide strike took place on 5 March, while Télam workers stood outside the offices. In a post on X from the account Somos Télam, they had a direct message to Milei. “These are some of the Telam workers who are at the door, waiting to be allowed to enter to work. There is no bravado here, we are journalists, we are professionals, we want to inform.”

The former President of Bolivia, Evo Morales, also used X to speak out against Milei. “We condemn the arbitrary suspension of all workers at the news agency #Télam. An attack not only on the job but also on freedom of the press and citizens’ right to information.”


The Public Media Alliance is seriously concerned about the future of public service media in Argentina. With the closure of Télam, sweeping cuts at Radio Nacional, and the continued desire from Milei to privatise these institutions, the sector is facing an existential crisis, and impending decimation.

Such actions will have significant consequences for the information ecosystem in Argentina, in which Télam, TV Públic and Radio Nacional play a crucial part. This is particularly the case for rural and isolated communities in Argentina, for some of whom national radio and television networks are their most important communication links to the rest of the country, a source of information, education and entertainment.

Public media is still young in Argentina, and as in all nation states, needs continued improvement and reform for it to completely fulfil its purpose as truly independent public service media. The imposition of such drastic cuts and the threat of privatisation are substantial and significant backwards step in this process.