Paraguay has made changes to its state-run media system through a restructuring of the organization, operation, and administrative functioning of its elements.
Lourdes Ramírez* / Paraguay, June 2014
The agency responsible for state-run media, the General Directorate of State-run Media of the Secretariat of Information and Communication for Development (SICOM), is looking to improve the conditions of sustainability (economic, social, technical and communicational) of the state-run media in Paraguay and to optimize access to public information and the education of the population through the use of said media.
As such, for the period 2014-2018, there are plans to create and promote new state-run media in order to highlight the presence of the Paraguayan government throughout the nation, particularly in border areas.
The conceptual framework of these policies includes the understanding of public communications as the process of interaction between the government and the various stakeholders and sectors in society: men, women, children, young people and adults. As such, we are not only talking about public information and a point in time at which it is transmitted. We are talking about a relational process through which the government interacts with society and society interacts with the State, exchanging information, making decisions, generating proposals and developing actions.
The Oversight Agency
SICOM was created by Decree 171 dated August 27, 2008 as an agency that answered to the Presidency of the Republic of Paraguay. The decree set out the functions, attributes and authority of the body and restructured the Secretariat of Social Communication, which reported to the Office of the Secretary General of the Presidency of the Republic.
In January 2014, the Paraguayan government approved a new Decree No. 1069 which changes the name of the Secretariat of Information and Communication for Development to the Secretariat of Information and Communication. It also establishes the Directorate of Presidential Information as part of this government entity, unifying criteria in order to provide better management of the communications of the President, the Cabinet and ministers and provide uniform communication from each government entity.
Sicom was thus made the oversight, regulatory and strategic agency for social communication and information policy for the Presidency of the country with full authority over the media that form part of it.
The State-run Media System
These institutional changes had a specific goal: the restructuring of the organization, operations and administrative functioning of San Pedro National Radio and changing the name of the news agency IP Paraguay.
Paraguay’s state-run media system includes San Pedro National Radio, which is located in the northern part of the country with a reach of 150 km; Paraguay National Radio, with national coverage in AM and FM and a reach of 60 km covering the areas of Asunción, Gran Asunción, Central and Cordillera; and Radio Carlos Antonio López in the southern part of the country, with a reach of 150 km. The system also includes a digital government information agency that is currently called the Paraguayan Information Agency.
The TV channel that had been known as “TV Pública” is now called Paraguay TV HD Digital, and it has analog and digital signals. The change in name was meant to position it as the first digital channel in the country. It has a reach of 60 km, covering the main areas of Asunción, Gran Asunción and Cordillera.
An expansion plan will be launched at the national level this month through agreements with cable operators in order to include the public signal in over 80 TV companies for clients in the interior part of the country in order to achieve coverage of 60% of the national territory.
In terms of percentages, the origin of state-run media content is 65% national, 10% international, and 25% regional. Access to international content is possible through agreements with entities such as DocTV, Deustche Welle, TAL and others (see Table 1).
In March of this year, Paraguay TV HD Digital launched its new News Broadcast with eight consecutive hours of news coverage per day. The broadcast runs five days per week and is the first of its kind in the nation. The channel provides connections to other state-run media to the general public.
Another noteworthy aspect is the funding of state-run media channels through Treasury Resources (see Table 2).
Source 10 – Treasury Resources form part of the budget allocated by the Ministry of the Treasury.
Source 30 – Self-generated Resources form part of the resources generated through publicity by the state-run media.
*Lourdes Ramírez is the Director of State-Run Media at SICOM.