CPJ Takes on Communicational Hegemony


On the heels of a scathing LA Times piece on the tone of campaign coverage in the National System of Public Media, the latest report on the state of the media in Venezuela by the Committee to Protect Journalists exposes the seamy underbelly of Communicational Hegemony in painstaking detail.

Since 2003, the government has financed the startup of ViVe TV, a nationwide cultural and educational television network; ANTV, which broadcasts National Assembly sessions on the airwaves and on cable; AN radio; Ávila TV, a regional channel run by the city of Caracas; Alba TV and Alba Ciudad FM; YVKE Mundial Radio; La Radio del Sur; the newspaper Correo del Orinoco; and the news website Aporrea. Venezuelan Social Television Station, known as Tves, began broadcasting on May 28, 2007, a day after the country’s oldest private television station, RCTV, was pulled off the air after 57 years. According to a 2007 CPJ report, the Venezuelan government failed to conduct a fair and transparent review of RCTV’s concession renewal in an effort to silence its critical coverage. In 2010, government regulators also pulled RCTV from cable and satellite for not carrying Chávez’s speeches.

The formidable media presence is supported by a group of state-funded community media, added López Maya from Central University. “The balance between private media and state-owned has changed dramatically since Chávez’s second mandate,” she told CPJ. In fact, the government recently marshaled resources from the broadcast regulator Conatel, the Ministry of Communication and Information, and the intelligence service to draw a map of the nation’s media based on their allegiances, according to Espacio Público. The survey concluded that more than 50 percent of media is loyal to the government, while 25 percent is sympathetic to the opposition.


In the book Hegemony and the Control of Communications, Marcelino Bisbal, media analyst at Andrés Bello Catholic University in Caracas, wrote that the Venezuelan government’s media platform had no precedent in the history of the country or Latin America.

I think CPJ’s take is a little bit too optimistic in assuming that if only Chávez was out of the way then we’d have exemplary, tough, gritty, probing, investigative media in Venezuela.

We wouldn’t. We’d have the same gaggle of complacent, innumerate hacks. They’d just be facing fewer arbitrary restrictions, that’s all.

That said, their dissection of the chilling rise of the State Media Apparatus is spot on.

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  1. ” The survey concluded that more than 50 percent of media is loyal to the government, while 25 percent is sympathetic to the opposition.”

    In other words, its still a more hostile media environment than the one in the US, for example, where the percentage of media loyal to the government is much higher than 50 percent.

    Also, one must take into account what people actually watch. Globovision, for example, certainly has a much larger audience than Tves, for example.

    • It’s funny, when I did the Two Weeks with No Comments experiment people tended to assume it was aimed at chavistas generally and at you specifically, Chris. It really wasn’t.

      I mean, I don’t actually think you comment in good faith, but I do think you make a substantive contribution here.

      It always brings to mind that thing about how the peculiar evil of silencing the expression of an opinion is that, if the opinion is right, people are deprived of the opportunity of exchanging error for truth and if it’s wrong, they lose what’s almost as great a benefit: the clearer perception and livelier impression of truth produced by its collision with error.

      That’s beautifully rendered, don’t you think?

      • As usual, Toro can’t show how or why what I have said is wrong. Rather, he just glibly responds by attacking the person behind the comment.

        That’s pretty pathetic, don’t you think?

          • But you can characterize media outlets by their political stance, and in that way gauge if the media spectrum overall is slanted in a particular direction. If you deny this, well then you’d be denying Toro’s very ability to make the bullshit claim that the government has “communicational hegemony.”

          • Quico did not say the government *has* communicational hegemony (a term, btw, that comes from the very government), but you cannot deny that this is an aspiration of theirs, and that they are ever closer to obtaining it. This point is beyond debate, really.

          • If having 50% of the media being sympathetic of the government is “communicational hegemony,” then I can’t think of another country in the world where this isn’t the case. Can you?

          • That is not what “communicational hegemony” means. it’s not abot being “sympathetic,” it’s about being a propaganda arm for the government and shutting out dissenting points of view. In essence, it’s what VTV, ANTV, and other government outlets do.

          • But of course your claim that they are “propaganda arms” is also not a measurable thing. I just saw a full length interview of Julio Borges on VTV the other day. So obviously the claim that they “shut out dissenting views” is not entirely true.

        • So GAC, the sharp-tongued king of ad hominem is all of a sudden thin-skinned when someone treats him in a similar fashion… Like leader, like follower.
          And honestly, as a Venezuelan I don’t get why should I care about US media bias. I couldn’t care less about how biased the US media is. However, I am deeply concerned about the obsession of Venezuelan government in curtailing free press. And I feel abashed when I see the president trying to teach a foreign reporter “how to be a journalist”. Vergüenza ajena es lo que da!

      • The GAC arguments are laughable. In the U. S. the Government does NOT outrightly own (exception VOA), finance, lend to cronies to buy, or close, fine, private media, as does the Venezuelan Govt. and the exceptions to this are very few. Nor does it have a Conatel which regulates content. Nor does it sit by while the President spends thousands of hours over time in propaganda Cadenas, even contravening its own rules pre-elections. Nor does it control Cadivi dollars for the importation of newsprint. Nor does it dole out massive amounts of money for political propaganda advertising only to pro-Government radio/print/TV media, which many of them depend on for financial survival. Nor does it give away free Government- financed newspapers with Government propagandistic articles. And who knows what else I’ve missed. I agree that Chris whatever should be allowed to debate/rebuff so that we can really better understand the convoluted thinking of the Intellectually Dishonest Left, but now and then he really should make an ATTEMPT at intellectual honesty.

  2. “In other words, its still a more hostile media environment than the one in the US, for example, where the percentage of media loyal to the government is much higher than 50 percent.”

    Hey! this apple tastes nothing like that orange!

      • Yes, apples to oranges is a great argument!

        In other words, the argument goes something like this: “Venezuela’s media spectrum shouldn’t be similar to other countries’ media spectrums! It should be like it used to be! Terribly one sided against the government and in favor of right-wing business groups!”

        Clearer perception for sure!

        • Yeah, you’re right.

          Remember that time the US government shut down FOX news and sanctioned Rush Limbaugh? And how PBS (the “state-funded channel) was all for the Iraq invasion?

          • Actually, I do remember when the Bush administration outright attacked Al Jazeera, bombing several of its offices, and prohibiting Al Jazeera English from broadcasting inside the United States. To this day, Al Jazeera cannot be viewed on television in most of the United States.

            And any mention of the Iraq invasion is actually a perfect example of how the media environment in the United States is utterly servile to Washington’s interests. Virtually all of the major media were in favor of the war leading up to the Iraq invasion, with almost no questioning of the entirely bogus rationale. You’ve provided perfect examples.

    • I’ve always wondered why the far Left sees the US media model and assumes there’s some sort of nebulous back room where reporters get their orders from the government. In reality any media model is a hell of a lot more complicated than that with various interests fighting. It’s kind of like how in Venezuela there isn’t much direct repression of media, it comes in the form of creating a hostile environment like the endless lawsuits and cases opened up against Globovision.

      • This isn’t how the left sees the media at all. In fact the left in the US has explained precisely why the media spectrum is the way it is. There is a massive amount of literature on this, starting with the pioneering work of Manufacturing Consent, all the way down to the comprehensive analysis given by people like Robert McChesney. None of it explains it as back room dealings.

  3. Ha, ha, I have to laugh a little with Get a clue comments. Thank you mate!
    But from my perspective in Germany, the efforts of government in achieving a “communicational hegemony” are appalling, they got quantity, sure, but not quality, Get a clue states himself, who see the government channels? And you must be really ignorant or idiot (not offense intended) to believe what they state. Look what they say about the Narcoavioneta that crashed (today in the news), “vuelo ilegal” “iba a participar en narcotráfico” but it happens to have cocaine on board, hmmm. The many news about “Corpoelec garantiza el suministro eléctrico en…” (and really it is about a blackout). “Metro de Caracas funciona normalmente….” (and it was put out of service for a couple of hours). Remember me of the good old days La Voz de Moscú o Radio Habana, hey, maybe there is a connection there…
    Even the folks of Apoforo make jokes about this.

  4. One of the costs of Free Speech is having to listen to a LOT of BS. And I am willing to pay this price. Vale la pena. But Get a Clue (AKA Chris, etc.) is really upping the ante lately.

  5. “Get a Clue, we have all convinced ourselves that we are quite tolerant. Just watch how we mention tolerance every time we call for your head.”

    Wise up, people. This is going to be (the smart and reasonable part of) your opposition if you win, and you will look very foolish if you fullfill your fantasies of just shutting him up.


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