National Alternative Media Meeting and Venezuelan Government Agree on Steps Forward

While members of the communications ministry met with hundreds of community and alternative media over the weekend to look at ways to support that movement, other government officials met with private media on Monday to encourage them to promote better values.

By Tamara Pearson
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Ministry of communications representative Reinaldo Escorcia (CdO)
Ministry of communications representative Reinaldo Escorcia (CdO)

Merida, 21st January 2014 (Venezuelanalysis.com) – While members of the communications ministry met with hundreds of community and alternative media over the weekend to look at ways to support that movement, other government officials met with private media on Monday to encourage them to promote better values.

Alternative and community media conference

Representatives of 473 community and alternative media outlets participated in a national meeting to discuss the National Plan of Community and Alternative Communication 2014-2019 over the weekend in Miranda state.

The Ministry of Communications convoked and organised the meeting, which was the second part of a national meeting held in December.

Participants were organised into 18 working groups, which then elected a delegate to put together a single document, which will become the national plan. The meeting focused on four key themes: education and training, content, socio-productive projects as a means for self-sustainability, and responsible use of radio waves. 

According to the communication ministry’s grassroots communication representative, Rolando Corao, working groups decided on116 tasks for the five year period.

Another spokesperson from the communications ministry, Reinaldo Escorcio, said the meeting also facilitated “all those who are involved in alternative and community media learning about successful experiences that other projects which are more consolidated have had”. He also said that the meeting would help the ministry understand the movements’ needs, weaknesses and strengths.

Karina Vivas, spokesperson of the Miranda Community Media Council, which comprises 25 media organisations, said that the meeting was also an opportunity to strengthen the distribution of content produced by alternative media.

Two key proposals which came out of the meeting include creating a school for communications education and also university-level academic recognition of the experiences of those involved in such media.

Another key agreement, Escorcio said, was that the state would provide support in printing alternative and community newspapers. In the future, the idea would be that the state’s newspapers transfer their “responsibility” to a network of community newspapers.

“On Sunday in the final plenary, the conclusions from the discussions were read out. It was proposed that a joint commission be created between the alternative media and the ministry, in order to ensure that the 116 tasks be carried out. But it got late, and we never voted on that proposal,” Rosiris Berroteran, of Tatuy TV, Merida, told Venezuelanalysis.com

“A spokesperson from each state was given a folder with the conclusions as well, and they have to digitalise that and socialise the information with the media in their state. Coming out of this conference, I feel hopeful, there was good work done, and it was well organised. But the thing is we have to carry things out, there’s no point proposing and not implementing things,” Berroteran said.

According to state channel VTV, there are currently 253 radios, 41 television stations, and 215 newspapers which form part of the communicators’ network of alternative and community media.

Government meeting with public and private television media

Yesterday governmental authorities also met with board members of Venezuela’s public and private television channels.

The meeting follows President Nicolas Maduro’s address to the nation last week, when he instructed communication minister Delcy Rodriguez and the national communications commission Conatel to revise all television programming. His remarks came as national and international media focused on the murder of actress Monica Spears, and the situation of crime in the country.

He argued that Venezuelan soap operas glorify violence, drugs, guns, and betrayal, and encourage bad values in children. Among the shows he has criticised is In All Ways Pink, broadcast by Venevision, where the main character is a female villain who gets revenge after “leaving everything for love”.

“Let’s build a culture of peace together for our children,” Maduro said in his speech.

President of public station TVes, William Castillo, said that at the meeting yesterday there “was a call to comply with the Law of Responsibility in Radio and Television, which is being broken in a very obvious way”. Board members agreed with the call and committed to present a proposal to reduce violent content in their programming by next week.

Castillo said this morning, in an interview with VTV, that television channels “broadcast over nine hours of soap operas per day”. It was proposed they be limited to four hours a day, in two blocks.

The measure “supports broadcasting more youth and child programming which is constructive, recreational, and cultural,” Conatel president Pedro Maldonado said.

Maldonado, coming out of the meeting, emphasised that there was no intention to take any stations off air. He said, however, that one proposal was parental control over content, where parents or guardians of children can block programs with violent content.