Filed under: Venezuela
Alex Beech, a former Venezuelan TV newscaster, is now a writer in New York. She's knows a lot about the Venezuelan television industry and has watched this assault on RCTV closely. Wiith RCTV off the airwaves, she now sees tiny Globovision also under attack. Her thoughts, reprinted with permission, are well worth reading here:
During a nationally televised speech, President Chavez threatened to close down Globovision, the only remaining TV network which openly opposes his government. Chavez said he had the power to "not renew the concessions of some channels early," as the crowd chanted "A Globovision, ahora le toca." ("Now, it's Globovision's turn.")
At midnight on May 27th, the government took RCTV off the air, accusing it of participating in the events which temporarily removed him from power in 2002. RCTV was the only remaining VHF channel with a critical editorial line.
Before being removed from the air, RCTV had a 90% penetration throughout Venezuela, a 33% market share, and was ranked number one in the country for its entertainment and news programs. The government-financed network which replaced it moments after midnight, TVES, has fallen to the last place in the ratings. (In the latest survey, 83% of Venezuelans opposed the closing of RCTV; 70% believed its replacement will only broadcast pro-government content.)
Chavez's remaining target, Globovision is on channel 33, and is mainly viewed on cable. While only 47% of Venezuelans have cable, Globovision's investigative reporting, opinion shows, and editorial line have turned it into a state enemy.
If Globovision disappears, there will be NO dissenting voice on Venezuelan television, VHF or UHF. Please don't mistake "privately owned" with dissenting. While most media in Venezuela is privately owned, the voices of dissension are eroding. TO SURVIVE IN VENEZUELAN MEDIA IS TO BOW TO CHAVEZ. Dissenting voices have already disappeared from the channels with the best frequency, (2-13), and with only one dissenting channel remaining on television, it's only time before they also disappear from UHF, including cable and satellite. Radio and print media is sure to follow.
Freedom of expression is not a luxury, but a universal human right.