Government and Globovizion: What's the Problem?

Venezuela's telecommunications chief announced a new probe into a television station opposed to President Hugo Chavez's government on Saturday, and said 29 broadcasters will soon face closure.

Conatel, as the telecommunications regulator is known, today accused the network of inciting violence by broadcasting text messages from viewers in an on-screen ticker during an evening program. It will ask the attorney general to seek criminal charges, Conatel chief Diosdado Cabello said in comments carried by state television.

“Those messages are filtered by the channel and there must be consequences if a channel is calling for the assassination of the president or a coup,” said Cabello, who is also the minister of public works and housing.

Cabello has closed 34 radio and television outlets and is reviewing as many as 240 licenses as part of a process to “democratize” the media after being appointed by President Hugo Chavez this year. Chavez has called on the attorney general and courts to take action against media identified with the opposition, saying they try to destabilize the country.

The charge against Globovision today is the sixth in the past six months and could lead to a 72-hour suspension of broadcasts or the complete revoking of its license, said Ana Cristina Nunez, the legal representative of Globovision.

“Globovision is totally distanced from any message that could incite something as serious as a coup,” she said in comments on Globovision.

“There are television stations that are infectious for public health,” Cabello said. “The impunity for media owners is over,” according to Bloomberg's report.