Mérida, June 5th 2009 (Venezuelanalysis.com) – Right wing TV station Globovision must pay over $US 3 million for using unauthorized microwaves and for evading taxes on advertising. Also, its president, Guillermo Zuloaga, was charged yesterday with usury connected to his selling of cars.
The political administrative section of the Venezuelan Supreme Court has ruled that Globovision, a 24 hour private and opposition-oriented TV news channel, must pay a fine of 30,000 tax units, or BsF 1,650,000 ($US 767,440) for using unauthorised microwave frequencies.
In December 2003, the National Telecommunications Commission (Conatel) took administrative steps against Globovision for clandestine use of the radio-electric spectrum with unauthorised microwaves. At the time, Conatel temporarily decommissioned some of the microwave equipment Globovision was using.
The microwave equipment is used to conduct live transmissions from any chosen location in Caracas, but is not required for the channel to go to air in general. The equipment transmits at a certain frequency, a frequency that is regulated by Conatel to avoid two different stations using the same band and causing interferences.
For the illegal use of microwaves, according to article 205 of the Telecommunications Law, Globovision must pay the fine of 30,000 tax units, and hand over the microwave equipment. However, in response to this, Globovision made an application for annulment and suspension of the measures, and was successful with this in March 2007. Yesterday, the Supreme Court has overturned this preventative measure and declared that Globovision still has to pay the fine.
Globovision will also have to pay BsF 5 million ($US 2.3 million) in undeclared taxes for political advertising, Seniat—Venezuela’s tax and customs agency—announced today. The TV channel had given advertising space to opposition front organizations such as Women for Freedom and Democratic Renew, without paying the respective taxes.
Seniat started the proceedings in March 2004 and Globovision appealed in June 2005, an appeal which Seniat overruled today.
According to the notification issued by Seniat, Globovision owes a total of BsF5,073,589 in taxes on donations. Fanny Marquez, general manager of Seniat judicial services, said that between December 2002 and January 2003 Globovision had totally suspended its programming, in order to transmit anti-government messages and calls to march.
Further, “They didn’t charge for the advertising time, which makes it a donation. If they don’t declare it, they are covering it up,” Marquez said. Globovision responded that it wasn’t a donation, but rather a use of its airwave time according to freedom of expression, to which Marquez responded, “They have to pay the omitted tax, the fine, and the interest.” The taxes are based on rates that were in force at the time, and apply only to the advertising, not the programming.
Marquez also said that such measures had been applied to private TV channels RCTV, Televen, and Venevision. Both Televen and Venevision paid the taxes, but until now neither RCTV nor Globovision have.
Finally, the public prosecutor charged Globovision president and businessman, Guillermo Zuloaga yesterday with generic usury, or for alleged illegal storage of 24 vehicles.
The vehicles were discovered and confiscated on 21 May on Zuloaga’s property.
Zuloaga has links with the Toyota dealerships Toyosan and Toyoclub.
According to justice minister, Tarek El Aissami, Zuloaga was fraudulently selling the cars to himself or to the companies in order to falsely increase their final sale price.
Coming out of court yesterday, Zuloaga told press that the case was about, “scaring or silencing Globovision, something that they are never going to achieve.”