By Ryan C Kossler
Impunity Watch Reporter, South America
CARACAS, Venezuela – The fate of Globovision, the last major channel in Venezuela that is critical of President Hugo Chavez, is unknown.
On September 7, Minister of Public Works and Housing Diosdado Cabello announced that an investigation would be initiated into Globovision’s recent alleged unlawful broadcast of a viewer’s text. The message called for a coup and the assassination of Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez. “If you call for a coup, if you call for assassination, assume your responsibility,” Cabello said.
Earlier in the day, Venezuela’s telecommunications commission issued a statement accusing Globovision of airing messages having the implication of calling for violent acts. The commission also stated that Globovision’s airing of anti government messages sought to “promote public protests, which could generate a climate of tension and nervousness in the population.”
Globovision’s legal advisor Ana Cristina Nunez responded by saying that “We are very careful in attempting to stop people from using Globovision’s screen to make illegal petitions,” and that the channel “would never intentionally broadcast unlawful text messages.”
Opponents to President Chavez see the potential closure of Globovision as another instance of President Chavez trying to silence the media. “There is a clear strategy to control the flow of information and restrict criticism,” said Carlos Lauria of the New York Committee to Protect Journalists.
President Chavez has denied any accusations that his government is attempting to control the private media for political reasons and has said that Globovision is being investigated only for violations of unlawful broadcasting regulations.
The latest accusations regarding Globovsion’s alleged actions come in the wake of the recent closure of 32 private media outlets and the announcement by Cabello that “there are 29 [radio stations] that will be off the air shortly.”
This is not the first instance that Globovision has clashed with the government and is one example among many in the growing tension between the government and Venezuela’s private media. On July 17, 2009, Cabello announced that if Globovision did not comply with the laws, its license would be revoked. This announcement was made shortly after regulators opened five investigations into Globovision’s activities.
For more information, please see:
CNN – Venezuelan Minister: More radio closures coming – 6 September 2009
Miami Herald – Anti-Chavez TV station faces possible shutdown – 7 September 2009
Miami Herald – Venezuela steps up threats against anti-Chavez TV – 17 July 2009