Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Just The Facts About RCTV

The current crisis in Venezuela is manufactured news, not about freedom of speech but freedom of speech for a fascist opposition movement against the Chavez government and the Bolivarian Revolution.

Two Sides of Venezuela RCTV Shutdown

Unlike most of the mainstream media and RCTV would have you believe, Hugo Chavez is not "closing down" RCTV, but only refusing to renew the broadcaster's public license. That is, RCTV won't be able to broadcast on public airwaves anymore. Putting the obvious negative effects such measure will have on the station's ratings aside, RCTV will still be able to broadcast on Venezuela by cable and satellite. This refusal, in turn, was made on the basis that RCTV violated several laws in the last few years, most notably on its participation on the 2002 coup. Furthermore, RCTV didn't cooperate with tax laws and didn't pay a number of fines issued by the Venezuelan government in recent years.

The day after the coup, a TV show aired on RCTV showed journalists and military coup plotters talking about how they tried to create an atmosphere of violence that would justify the overthrow of Chavez's government, and thanking RCTV for the support. During the coup, RCTV ran adverts calling the people to overthrow the government, and was the first station to broadcast the false claim that Chavez's supporters were shooting at peaceful demonstrators, which ended up triggering the military intervention. It turned out that the RCTV initiative backfired, and it would be enough for Chavez not to renew the license.

As Reporters without Borders doesn’t mention, perhaps understandably so, given its financing by the US State Department’s National Endowment for Democracy — which also finances rightist opposition political parties in Venezuela — RCTV was an active participant in the violent coup d’etat that deposed President Chávez for almost 48 hours in 2002.

Cartoon Coup D’Etat

On the day of the coup, RCTV abandoned all pretense to report news impartially, calling opposition supporters to illegally demonstrate at the Miraflores Presidential Palace in Caracas while showing the constant on screen message ‘Ni un paso atras’: ‘Not one step back.’

It deliberately showed film from one angle to falsely claim that Chávez supporters were firing on opposition demonstrators, when another camera angle would have shown that Chávez supporters were defending themselves from sniper attacks — no opposition demonstrators were in sight. The constant repeated broadcasting of this film was then used as justification for some military officers to declare their ‘disobedience’ to the president, and these declarations were faithfully broadcast to attempt to legitimize a military takeover.

The American editorial writers who fail to mention all this, also fail to comment on the Venezuelan media’s support for the subsequent fascist junta that took control in Caracas and proceeded to dismiss the entire Supreme Court and the Congress, suspend the constitution, arrest the democratically elected president and then sent armed police onto the streets to suppress any resistance.

A junta member, Admiral Victor Ramírez Pérez, thanked journalists on live TV the day after the coup, saying that the organizers ‘had a weapon — the media — let me congratulate you,’ and the businessman the junta chose to be ‘president’, Pedro Carmona, summoned media executives to Miraflores to ensure that opposition to the coup was not reported.

RCTV’s boss, Granier, denied he ever met Carmona during the coup, despite film showing his presence at Miraflores, and while Granier still refers to the junta leader as ‘President Carmona’, RCTV’s subsequent actions demonstrated that no instructions were necessary to keep it on message.

As Venezuelans took to the streets to demand the return of President Chávez, fighting the police and demonstrating at Miraflores in their thousands against the coup, RCTV, contrary to the constant coverage it awarded the opposition demonstration that led to the coup, intentionally blacked out this breaking news, and as RCTV production manager at the time, Andrés Izarra, later related, Granier himself ordered journalists ‘not to broadcast information on Chávez, his supporters or anyone connected to him.’

As for Granier and RCTV, some in the opposition believe it is no loss to have the station lose its license. ‘RCTV wasn’t even good at propaganda,’ wrote one anti-Chávez columnist citing Chávez’s return after the coup and massive election win in 2006, ‘the point of giving up journalism is to increase the political effectiveness of what is broadcast, and on that score RCTV has certifiably failed.’

Hugo Chavez versus RCTV

Venezuela's oldest private TV network played a major role in a failed 2002 coup.

By Bart Jones, BART JONES spent eight years in Venezuela, mainly as a foreign correspondent for the Associated Press, and is the author of the forthcoming book "Hugo! The Hugo Chavez Story, From Mud Hut to Perpetual
May 30, 2007

Would a network that aided and abetted a coup against the government be allowed to operate in the United States? The U.S. government probably would have shut down RCTV within five minutes after a failed coup attempt — and thrown its owners in jail. Chavez's government allowed it to continue operating for five years, and then declined to renew its 20-year license to use the public airwaves. It can still broadcast on cable or via satellite dish.

Granier and others should not be seen as free-speech martyrs. Radio, TV and newspapers remain uncensored, unfettered and unthreatened by the government. Most Venezuelan media are still controlled by the old oligarchy and are staunchly anti-Chavez.

If Granier had not decided to try to oust the country's president, Venezuelans might still be able to look forward to more broadcasts of "Radio Rochela."

Venezuela and RCTV: democracy or dictatorship?

The U.S. media, in particular, having for years predicted dictatorship under Chávez, (whose popularity stubbornly remains of the order of 60-65%, much higher than GW Bush's) has of course leapt to make the accusation of censorship and 'the end of media freedom' in Venezuela.

Let's look a bit more closely at this accusation.

In other democratic countries, broadcast companies sometimes lose their licences. Renewal of licences isn't automatic or guaranteed. In 1992, for example, partly as a result of a government-led assessment of the quality of its service, Thames Television, a popular, commercial British TV station, lost its franchise after 24 years of broadcasting.

In the USA, 2 weeks before the 2004 presidential election, there was a decision by the Sinclair Broadcast Group (who control many of the local tvstations in the country) to have its stations run a documentary criticising John Kerry. The Democratic National Committee filed a case with the FCC arguing that such "partisan propaganda" was unacceptable. (See 'Stolen Honor' Newsweek election edition 2004 ) . Kerry's spokesman Chad Clanton said: "You don't expect your local TV station to be pushing a political agenda two weeks before an election. It's un-American." Political and economic pressure applied by the democrats eventually forced the Sinclair Group to cancel the anti-Kerry broadcast. There was even some talk of the Sinclair Group losing its franchise when the Democrats came to power. One wonders what the scenario might have been had the Group actively participated in an anti government oil strike or in legal and political campaigns to remove the government of the day, would their broadcast licence have been renewed? Is overt and active support for the overthrow of an elected government considered a 'democratic' right or 'freedom of speech' in the USA?



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rabbit said...

How could the left, throughout the 20th century, repeatedly support monsters dressed up as socialists? How can they be so gullible?

I know a sociopath when I see him, and I don't care how much he proclaims himself to be a friend of the people. A fascist is a fascist, no matter how sweatly he sings L'Internationale.

Mike said...

As much as I like some of the things Chavez, this still worries me. The answer to sedious speech is more speech, not less, not muzzling.


Stop be an ass. Need I bring up Mussilini, Hitler, Piniochet, Samoza, the Shah, Turkemen, Bush and any one of the other fascists - true fascists - that are the darlings of the right? How can they be so gulible,eh?

You may be shocked to learn that not all lefties are Communists or even believe in the state at all.

How about actually debating the issues rather than titling a poorly constructed strawmen?

eugene plawiuk said...

Chavez is no more a dictator or fascist than that other leader of the one party state Ralph Klein....whoa on second thought.....

Mojoski said...

Surely you can't be serious..

Hitler, Mussilini, Pinochet? Darlins of the right?

Good grief, you people are all delusional.

Venezuela said...

It is really funny how people might thing that in fact Chavez is doing something for MY COUNTRY VENEZUELA, where delinquency has been growing in an alarming way… I am talking about 11,025 Homicides in 2003!!! Don’t even talk about last year quantity of Homicides… I am wonder if Mr. Charles Hardy would like to write a book about the fast growing of delinquency on CHAVEZ PRESIDENCY!!!

Think for one second, what type of people in average is a delinquent, I would say that most of the time is people with low incomes and poor quality of live, ironically that is the People that the President Chavez says He “supports & Helps”, and so I ask myself who the delinquents in VENEZUELA are then???

As of today in Venezuela the word “crime” forms part of the daily conversations where you as an average person cannot have the beautiful dreamed home (even if you have worked your whole life to have it), and if you do… Well, you better have a lot of money because you might be kidnapped. Believed or not that is a fact and even do if you are a medium class or low class person you might be kidnapped as well because EVERYBODY HAVE A PRICE in the actual Venezuelan delinquency Era.

Criminality is so bad lately in Venezuela that you cannot use nice shoes, a nice watch or a nice cell phone (if you want to still alive) although you might have it you can use it very carefully, in private parties, inside your house or relatives homes, and if you go out you better take it all of and better try to have a “low profile life”… That’s the real truth of LIVING IN VENEZUELA …

I respect all comments and opinion although I don’t agree with them, and you know what that’s so beautiful about democracy, been able to express, think and be Govern by Yourself; because the only Cancer and Enemy of the people is the Government that tries to indoctrinate it, shout it up or intimidate it.

This criminality situation that all Venezuelan are living under Chavez Government not only happens in the Metropolitan City CARACAS it is actually happening all over the Country….


Erik Abbink said...

First off, let me say that I don't agree with Chavez's decision not to renew the license; there must be other (legal) ways to stop the misinformation spread by this channel.

Democracy Now! had a special debate on this issue; very informative.

You can read about it or watch this show from here:

Chavez Shuts Down Venezuelan TV Station as Supporters, Opponents Rally: A Debate on the Closing of RCTV