Venezuela's Globovision "in Crisis” as it Loses More Journalists

Eight employees of the private broadcaster Globovision have resigned this week, criticising the channel's new moderate editorial policy.

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Since its sale earlier this year, Globovision has sought to rebrand itself as a more moderate news source, after years of stagnant market shares. (Reuters)
Since its sale earlier this year, Globovision has sought to rebrand itself as a more moderate news source, after years of stagnant market shares. (Reuters)
By Ryan Mallett-Outtrim
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Mérida, 22nd August 2013 (Venezuelanalysis.com) – Eight employees of the private broadcaster Globovision have resigned this week, criticising the channel's new moderate editorial policy.

After the station was first acquired in May by a group of Venezuelan investors headed by businessman Juan Domingo Cordero, the new owners indicated they hoped to “moderate” the channel's traditionally staunch anti-government line to boost audience share.

However, in a joint statement, the eight former Globovision employees stated that an “unjustified imbalance” in the station's new editorial line prompted their resignations, including “censorship” and the “blacklisting” of guests.

“Our commitment today is the commitment to always seek and speak the truth, to be the voice of the voiceless; hear their complaints, interpret their needs,” the statement read.

The statement was signed by Maria Elena Lavaud, Norberto Mazza, Maria Isabel Parraga, Roberto Giusti, Ana Karina Villalba, Roman Lozinski, Alba Cecilia Mujica and Gladys Rodriguez.

Globovision has long been accused by the government of favouring the voices of opposition groups, including those that staged a deadly coup attempt in 2002. More recently, however, it has been criticised by opposition leader Henrique Capriles. The former presidential candidate hit out at the station earlier this year after it indicated it would no longer routinely broadcast his speeches live, as it did in the lead up to the presidential elections in April.

A “Crisis” at Globovision

“There is a crisis at the channel that even extends to the board,” Lavaud stated, while in an article for El Universal Giusti claimed that there is no “free press” at Globovision.

After not appearing on air on Friday, on Tuesday Roman Lozinski cited a “combination of triggers” for his resignation; though he stated that his absence last week was due to illness.

However, that same day another Globovision journalist, Leopoldo Castillo also announced he would be leaving the station.

After hosting the station's flagship program, Alo Ciudadano (Hello Citizen) for 12 years, Castillo stated he was leaving with “no sadness in the soul or bitter taste in the mouth”.

While Globovision was often criticised by former president Hugo Chavez, Castillo's program has also been specifically singled out by critics as far afield as Africa.

In 2004, the ambassadors of six African governments issued an open letter to the former director of Globovision, condemning remarks made by the hosts of Alo Ciudadano about Zimbabwean president, Robert Mugabe.

“As we have been able to observe, your TV program "Alo Ciudadano" presented in repeated occasions some sort of parody concentrating around the figure of President Mugabe...[s]imply speaking, Mr. Director, your network's television viewers have been presented with a very grotesque and indecent spectacle, full of vulgar effects, despicable expressions and many ridicules and gestures full of racist content,” the statement read.

In a statement responding to Castillo's departure dated 17 August, the current Globovision director Raul Gorrín described the former host as “invaluable”.

“We have a sincere appreciation for, and express our admiration towards Leopoldo Castillo's path, and for his professionalism and dedication,” Gorrin wrote.

Along with the recent resignations, under Gorrin's directorship a number of Globovision journalists have been fired, including Ismael Garcia and Franciso Bautista in May. Following the two high profile departures, Globovision issued a statement arguing that it is aiming “to broaden its line of opinion and information to all voices in the country, without any discrimination”.

However, Capriles' recent claims that Globovision has allied itself with the government have been echoed by some international media outlets, which have described the new owners as “friendly” with the government. A report by Caracas newspaper Ciudad CCS cast doubt over this idea earlier this year, when it reported that Gorrin signed a document backing the 2004 recall referendum against Chavez.

Management has also denied the charge. Since Castillo's final show on Friday, the board has reiterated it wants “impartial” political coverage, as part of a long term strategy to broaden its audience.

In a study conducted last year media research company AGB Panamericana estimated that Globovision held a 4.29% share of Venezuela's television audiences.