Venezuela's Globovisión to be Sold but will Maintain Political Line

Opposition television channel Globovisión will change hands, but is expected to maintain its anti-government editorial line.

By Ryan Mallett-Outtrim
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Subject to numerous criminal investigations, Globovisión faces an uncertain future (VTV/Archive)
Subject to numerous criminal investigations, Globovisión faces an uncertain future (VTV/Archive)

Mérida, 3rd May 2013 (Venezuelanalysis.com) – Opposition television channel Globovisión will change hands, but is expected to maintain its anti-government editorial line.

Last night, the channel's main news anchor Leopoldo Castillo confirmed on the program Aló Ciudadano that the station would be sold to a group of investors led by Juan Domingo Cordero this week. Cordero is the owner of the Caracas based insurance company, Seguros La Vitalicia. He does not appear to have any previous experience in broadcasting.

According to Castillo, journalist and opposition supporter Vladimir Villegas is set to become news director. Late Thursday night, Villegas confirmed he would accept the position, but described his role as a “difficult challenge”.

Castillo, an outspoken supporter of the Venezuelan right-wing, stated he would be able to work with Villegas and Cordero “without compromising my principles or values”.

Following the announcement, some Globovisión staff expressed their approval over Twitter.

“Wonderful news. Vladimir Villegas, president of Globovisión. Leopoldo Castillo, second in command,” tweeted talk show host Maria Isabel Parraga.

Although he wrote for the Communist Party of Venezuela's newspaper Tribuna Popular early in his career, Villegas is now on the opposite side of the political spectrum. Between late 2003 to December 2004, Villegas was president of the state-owned broadcaster, Venezolana de Television (VTV). He has also served under a number of government posts, including as a member of the national assembly, ambassador to Brazil, and later as deputy foreign minister for Asia, Middle East and Oceania.

He currently has a weekly column in the right-wing newspaper El Nacional, and also writes regularly for El Mundo.

According to Castillo, Globovisión's current majority shareholder, Guillermo Zuloaga said on Thursday that he hoped Villegas would be able to provide better access to “official sources”. Zuloaga has been wanted by Venezuelan authorities since 2010. He is accused of illegally hoarding as many as 24 auto mobiles in his family home. He evaded arrest by fleeing to Miami, where he now lives.

Although Globovisión is expected to remain aligned with the opposition, the station's public broadcast license will expire in 2015, and there is speculation it may not be renewed.

Venezuela's gradual transition to digital television poses another uncertainty for Globovisión; the channel was not included in the government list of digital broadcasters when the transition began in February, indicating that it may be left behind when the public analogue signal is switched off.

Despite being subject to at least eight investigations by the Venezuelan National Telecommunications Council (Conatel) for alleged violations of its broadcast license, there is no indication from the government that the channel will not continue to be available on cable and satellite.

The sale of Globovisión was expected to take place today.