Coro, July 3rd 2011 (Venezuelanalysis.com) – Venezuela’s National Telecommunications Committee (CONATEL) has instigated proceedings against private TV station Globovisión, confirmed the committee’s Director, Pedro Maldonado, this Thursday.
CONATEL maintains that from the 16th to the 19th of June, during the confrontation in the Rodeo prison complex, the rightwing television station deliberately sought to create a situation of uncertainty and anxiety within Venezuela.
Throughout the operation the private media channel aired interviews and images of worried family members outside the prisons (over 90 times in 3 days), but did not screen any state news or information to counterbalance public speculation. This campaign of disinformation was designed to create civil unrest, particularly within the nation’s prisons where inmates were encouraged to engage in illegal activities, argues the CONATEL.
“It worries us that there appears to be an editorial line at Globovisión that aspires to generate anxiety within society, especially amongst the prison population,” said Maldonado.
By inciting “criminal behaviour, civil unrest, public disorder” and encouraging “disregard of the legal order”, CONATEL claims that the corporation acted in violation of the Law of Social Responsibility for Radio and Television – specifically articles 7, 27 and 29.
CONATEL was particularly concerned by the statements of one Globovisión reporter, who, without citing any sources, announced that family members had asked prisoner’s friends and relatives to “gather around the outside of the prison in order to prevent the militarisation of the penitentiary.”
Possible sanctions include a fine of up to 10% of Globovisión’s net profits for the preceding fiscal year or a prohibition on broadcasting for up to 72 hours.
The proceeding comes after Mario Silva – a talk-show host of the political programme “La Hojilla” (The Razor) – denounced Globovisión’s role in what he called a “destabilisation plan” against the government during the El Rodeo operation.
Silva maintained that the media corporation was in league with Humberto Prado of the Venezuelan Prison Observatory to orchestrate a “coup d’état” through the “complete destabilisation” of the nation’s prisons. He also questioned the presence of Globovisión cameras in penitentiaries prior to the state intervention.
“What were Globovisión’s cameras doing in other prisons within the country? What did they expect to happen there?” said the television host.
The opposition station has been linked to illegal practices before, most notably for its manipulation of footage and participation in the short-lived 2002 coup against president Chávez in which 18 people died.
More recently the television station’s owner, Guillermo Zuloaga, was implicated in a plot to assassinate the president and the channel was fined $3 million dollars in 2009 for tax evasion and the illegal use of microwave frequencies.
“There is complete freedom of expression in Venezuela, but in the same way that we are the guarantors of that freedom, we have to be the guarantors of the responsibility that is implicit within that freedom,” concluded Maldonado.