Maracaibo, February 21st, 2013 (Venezuelanalysis.com) – The Venezuelan government launched a digital television system on Wednesday that provides free digital broadcasting to nearly sixty percent of the country but excludes the opposition channel Globovisión.
Venezuela’s Vice President Nicolas Maduro announced the measure on live television yesterday, and said that the decision to launch the new system was made by President Chavez himself upon returning to the country this week.
The installation of the new digital technology required a total investment of US$ 265 million and was established through a cooperative agreement with Argentina that uses the same digital television technology used in Japan and throughout much of South America known as Terrestrial Integrated Services Digital Broadcasting (ISDB-T).
Technology Minister Jorge Arreaza said the digital signal is now available in 13 states across the country, and will carry various public channels such as state channels Venezolana de Televisión (VTV), Asamblea Nacional TV (ANTV), and ViveTV, as well as private channels such as Televen, Venevisión, and Meridiano.
The fervently anti-Chavez channel Globovisión, however,has been excluded from the list of channels to be broadcast through the new system, and will presumably be forced off the open airwaves once the analog signal is discontinued.
Since private channel RCTV went off the air in 2007 and off cable in 2010, Globovisión is considered to be the only openly anti-Chavez television channel in Venezuela.
The 24-hour news channel broadcasts over the analog signal in both Caracas and Valencia, and by cable and satellite to the rest of the country.
Upon the government’s inauguration of the new digital system, Globovisión immediately released a statement calling it “discrimination” and a “death sentence” for their channel.
“The implementation of the digital system will mean that the government will soon decree the end of the analog system, which Globovisión has used up to this point,” read the statement.
They denounced the government’s exclusion of their channel from meetings with the National Telecommunications Commission (Conatel) and claimed to have “repeatedly requested” to be included.
“Unable to broadcast over the air due to this technical limitation imposed by Conatel, Globovisión’s concession may be terminated early, and the government will then also exclude Globovisión from satellite and cable,” said the statement.
However, nothing has been said of Globovisión’s ability to broadcast over cable and satellite, as the new digital system launched by the government applies only to over-the-air broadcasts.
The Chavez government has not responded to Globovisión’s complaints, but pro-Chavez legislator Geovanni Peña justified the measure earlier today, accusing the channel of manipulating the truth, and of being opposed to the new technology promoted by the Chavez government.
“Globovisión destroys the mental health of the Venezuelan people. They are complaining but they don’t have any room to talk because they have always questioned everything related to the launching of the Venezuelan satellites,” he said.
Peña explained that the Venezuelan satellite Simón Bolívar will be used by the new digital system and that this was all part of the Chavez government’s efforts to achieve “technological independence”.
“[Globovisión] tried to say all this was a big lie, and they cast doubt on the usefulness [of the satellites]. Now they are complaining because they weren’t included in the new system,” he said.
Globovisión’s broadcast concession expires in 2015, at which point some suspect the Chavez government will not renew their license to broadcast over the public airwaves as was done with the private channel RCTV in 2007.
However, with the exclusion of the channel from the new digital system, they may be unable to broadcast over the airwaves before their concession expires in 2015.