The hegemons now go for the newspapers (Updated)

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Cadena Capriles's new headquarters in Caracas
Cadena Capriles’s new headquarters in Caracas

After the airwaves, it’s only natural that the people leading the communicational hegemony would set their sights on newspapers, looking to curb dissident voices and control the flow of information.

Early reports came today that the Cadena Capriles (owner of Últimas Noticias, El Mundo Economía y Negocios, and Líder) would be sold to banker Víctor Vargas. Hours later, such reports were confirmed.

It’s interesting to point out that Venezuelan bankers are legally banned from owning  media outlets after the 2010’s reform of the Banking Law (article 32, section 9).

As print media doesn’t require any government licenses like radio and TV broadcasters, there have been multiple State attempts for years to pressure newspapers. While a version of the RESORTEME Law for the newspapers has not come forward yet in the National Assembly, judicial actions are used in some parts of the country to keep the press on check. They also have the “currency permits for newsprint” card, just like the times of Lusinchi…

The State also runs three major newspapers: Correo del Orinoco, Diario VEA and Ciudad CCS (in which Information Minister Ernesto Villegas was its former director), but none of them has been successful outside the hardcore base. They’re just like VTV but in print.

With the help of some willing businessmen that can transform themselves in the Venezuelan version of Rupert Murdoch, the hegemony enters into a brand new phase…

UPDATE: Banco Occidental de Descuento (BOD) has denied in its Twitter account that either its chairman Víctor Vargas or the bank itself are involved in the purchase of Cadena Capriles. In an internal press statement, CC’s chairman Miguel Ángel Capriles López indicated that behind the operation was “…a well-known Venezuelan investment group”.

1 COMMENT

  1. ah! interesting and informative post as always, but you had me in the discussion of information hegemony until Rupert Murdoch!

      • It is interesting that the state appears to be squelching dissenting media through private means.

        Ultimately, these buyers are committing to a product whose success is premised on being “opposition” or at least, vaguely independent. So the product will fail in their hands. What are these “investors” really getting in return for purchases that lose their value when they change hands? One can only imagine.

  2. Murdoch has been successful by creating media operations that attracted underserved audiences, thereby earning advertising and cable/satellite revenue.

    The process in Venezuela will not be creating media that draws any particular audience, but media that serves the interests of the ruling political faction, which will use state funds to reward and subsidize its supporters.

    That’s a very different model.

    • I admit that it would be ridiculous to draw any close comparison between the kind of hegemony represented by Murdoch and what is going on in Venezuela. But a concern arising in England has been the closeness between the media mogul and the state, so it is a comparison in some way useful, although a PSF on this blog would no doubt call it the same thing, and be wrong.

      • I’m with Rich. Murdoch’s success depends on his ability to serve his (admittedly largely insane, and therefore ignored-by-others) audience. VV’s depends on his ability to serve his (also insane) political paymasters.

        • I think Murdoch’s success is not just in making money and finding a market. I think he has helped define a political culture.

          But there’s some distinguished person looking into this issue right now as I understand it, and a bunch of trials going on, so we will have to wait for the official report….

    • I used Murdoch as a point of reference, but your point is valid.

      Here Vargas (or J.D. Cordero) are playing the role of pseudo-media barons to keep the appeareance of diversity in private media ownership. The real power behind them (and control over editorial lines) stays in the shadows and can say to the world “Hey, we have free private media here”. In exchange, they’ll make good business.

    • Anything is possible. Ultimas Noticias is an important paper and has a big brand value (and a specific target audience too. Those popular-sounding headlines aren’t for naught). El Mundo has transformed itself from a mid-day paper to a specialized economic journal (specially after Reporte shifted from daily to weekly). Lider is challenging Meridiano in the sport newspaper market. And Cadena Capriles has done some important investments recently with its new offices.

      So, there’s an important value long-term for the new owners. If they don’t screw it up.

      • Wouldn’t that be great: among all the things that Chavismo has inadvertently screwed up, they end up creating greater private media concentration.

    • In this case I don’t agree with you. From what I heard, a VERY significant amount was paid for Globovision. Michu Capriles was not goin to sell Cadena Capriles for less than ….hmm… 300 million dollars? And that’s a low estimate.

    • It seems to me that it’s part of an strategy, from the Cubans of course, asking the boliburgueses and other sympathizer opportunist who I hope they rot in the 7th hell, to buy. I agree with the other Alex, not cheap, but offering a lot so they give it up. I am sure there is the business side to it, like they are gonna make money somehow, but this all media selling and buying are all political events.

  3. El Correo del Orinoco no es una versión impresa de VTV y está sumamente alejado de Vea y también de CCS. La dirección de Vanessa Davies, pese al inevitable sesgo, mantiene un mínimo de sentido periodístico y equilibrio en la pauta informativa.

    • Hay que decir que el Correo trata de presentarse como un periodico mas formal si lo comparamos con VEA. Eso lo reconozco. Gracias por tu opinion.

  4. FYI – Gustavo/Caracas Chronicles quoted in the Financial Times today:

    Fears for Press Freedom in Venezuela as Critic is Silenced (Benedict Mander, J P Rathbone)

    “After the airwaves, it’s only natural that the people leading the [government’s] communicational hegemony would set their sights on newspapers, looking to curb dissenting voices and control the flow of information,” wrote Gustavo Hernandez Acevedo on the influential opposition website Caracas Chronicles.

    http://www.ft.com/cms/s/0/de877cca-cd0a-11e2-9efe-00144feab7de.html#axzz2VGFpgKWO

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