Mérida, March 29th 2012 (Venezuelanalysis.com) – Venezuelan’s National Telecommunication Commission (Conatel) has taken rightwing news station Globovision to the Supreme Court for not paying a Bs 9.3 million (US$ 2.2 million ) fine by the due date, 1 January 2012.
The fine was first issued in October last year after the El Rodeo prison events in June, in which Conatel claims Globovision’s coverage of the situation was “manipulative” and “caused fear”. Globovision incorporated shooting sounds over some footage and transmitted eighteen “emotional” declarations 269 times over four days.
Conatel director, Pedro Maldonado, said that as the fine had not been paid and as the station had not “shown interest” in paying it, the commission will have to take legal action to force the payment. Also, the Venezulean government administratively can’t compel anyone to pay fines, hence, he said, taking the situation to the courts.
Responding to possible opposition criticisms, Maldonado said the measure was not a “violation of freedom of expression, because the administrative procedure has been adjusted to international standards”.
“Exercising the authority that the constitution and law give us, and also given that the Auditing Law obliges public servants to safeguard public wealth, and understanding that this fine forms part of the public wealth, we’re obliged to take this action so that [Globovision] pays the fine,” said Maldonado.
Maldonado also explained that Globovision had had due process and the right to defend itself.
The fine, like all fines, will also grow in value, at 15% per year, less than current inflation rates. It represents 7.5% of Globovision’s gross income declared in 2010.
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 the appeal 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
Last month the opposition umbrella group, the MUD, disobeyed a Supreme Court order not to burn their primary election records.