One of the governments main allegations against the private TV stations, particularly RCTV, is that after April 11th, 2002, they didn’t broadcast information about the protests Hugo Chávez’s supporters staged against Pedro Carmona’s de facto regime.
The private media censored themselves, they ran cartoons rather than information about the riots and looting that took the lives of dozens of citizens. Their excuse at the time was that they didn’t want to contribute to spreading anarchy and violence, as had happened on February 27th, 1989, when the Caracazo was catalyzed by live broadcasting.
Curiously, the “public service” TV station that has just taken over Channel 2’s signal hasn’t broadcast any news so far about the protests taking place all over the country against the blow to free expression that was taking RCTV off the air.
But it’s not just TVES, none of the state run channels, or the private ones that have lined up behind the government, such as Venevisión, has reflected on their screens what has been happening on the streets.
The blackout – one-sided information or zero information – has become a government policy. To ignore all that isn’t convenient is the line handed down to the salaried journalists and parasitic businessman: only pre-approved propaganda is accepted. The media outlets that refuse to follow this order are pressured impudently, through their advertisers. Companies that buy advertising space get called, threatened and blackmailed.
When total control over a news item can’t be guaranteed, only state media are accepted by the official sources. For example, tonight (May 30th), after the arbitrary arrest of former deputy and activist Oscar Pérez, of the National Resistance Command, only VTV and TVes reporters were given access to the jail so they could cover it first hand.
Facing this news blackout, the informal media are strengthened. RCTV is broadcasting its newscast, El Observador, over YouTube.
By blacking out the news, a policy ordered directly by Hugo Chávez, whose idea of journalism is closer to the uniformed Granma and the deformed Mario Silva, the President commits another flagrant violation of the constitution he so pompously sold as the most progressive of them all.