Mérida, November 8th 2011 (Venezuelanalysis.com) – Yesterday opposition news channel Globovision went to the Administrative Dispute Court to appeal a large fine levied against it for inciting fear. Four opposition candidates arrived outside the court to “rally” to the channel’s political cause.
AVN reported that at midday Globovision workers and the company’s lawyers showed up outside the court in Caracas and that soon after opposition presidential primaries candidates “took advantage of the opportunity to convert an administrative action into an impassioned political rally”.
On 18 October Venezuela’s National Telecommunications Council (CONATEL) awarded Globovision a US$ 2.16 million (Bs 9.3 million) fine, equivalent to 7.5% of its gross income in 2010, for manipulation and causing fear with its coverage of the El Rodeo Prison hostage situation.
Conatel maintained that from the 16 to 19 June, during the Rodeo Prison situation, Globovision deliberately sought to create a situation of uncertainty and anxiety within Venezuela.
Pedro Maldonado, director of social responsibility with Conatel said at a press conference that Globovision retransmitted interviews with eighteen people who were outside the prisons 269 times over a period of four days. Globovision also incorporated sound effects to the footage, such as the sound of machine guns.
The four main candidates who will compete in the opposition’s primaries next February to be its single candidate in the presidential elections next October, Maria Corina Machado, Henrique Capriles Radonski, Leopoldo Lopez and Pablo Perez were all present outside the Caracas court yesterday.
They told the press they were there to “fight in defence of freedom of expression”. AVN pointed out that the “phrase was repeated freely before various media organisations, live …around the country”.
Globovision lawyer Ricardo Antela told press that all of Conatel’s accusations were “false” and that he expected the appeal to be admitted to the court “within two weeks at the latest”.
He said that should the appeal be accepted, there would be a temporary suspension of Globovision’s fine, due to be paid by 31 December this year. Should it be refused Globovision also applied for legal protection for “violation of constitutional rights” and for a precautionary measure.
Vice-president of Globovision, Carlos Zuloaga told the press that the fine was “unpayable” but also said, “a fine won’t make Globovision lower its quality”.
The fine is the second one that Globovision has received. The first was in June 2009, of US$ 3 million for using unauthorised microwaves and for evading taxes on advertising. The actual proceedings in that case began in 2004 by Venezuela’s tax agency Seniat, were appealed by Globovision in 2005, and overruled by Seniat in 2009.
The opposition channel has been linked to other illegal practices as well, most notably for its manipulation of footage and participation in the short-lived 2002 coup against President Hugo Chavez.