February 12th, 2014 will be remembered in our history for many reasons, but one that is passing under the radar is that it was the day when Venezuelans finally witnessed first-hand the full effects of communicational hegemony.
As the remaining national television channels and most local radio stations decided to pretend nothing was happening, most of the coverage (beside SIBCI’s one-sided coverage) came from the Internet, and from international news channels.
Then, right after the incidents in Caracas, broadcasting authority CONATEL made its move and swiftly ordered cable companies to take down Colombian news channel NTN24 from their grids.
With this action, the newly appointed Director-General of CONATEL,William Castillo has already left his mark. Castillo is a hardcore Chavista journalist, a true believer in communicational hegemony, and one of its main figures, both in front and behind the cameras. Hours before, he warned media outlets that covering the protests could be considered “illegal”.
It’s interesting that someone who comes from the creative side of hegemony is now in charge of the repressive side of it. Of course, this synergy started late last year. However, this also signals a new stage for the hegemony itself: When Juan made his post about hegemony days ago, I commented that as the repressive side of the hegemony has been succesful, the creative side has been a failure. Therefore, the creative parts are now becoming more and more useless for the hegemony’s current objectives and will merge instead with the repressive side.
Not that the hegemony’s creative side was doing well anyway: From the recent example of the hegemony’s latest addition TV-FANB to Telesur’s “approach” to reporting, the hegemony is somehow admitting their work is not good enough, and there’s no motivation to do better. Don’t believe me? The brand new president of TVES, game show host/former candidate for mayor Winston Vallenilla, said that he will make the station just as the commercial ones.
In the end, it all comes down to one word: effort. To create something good requires effort, but it is easier to just embrace mediocrity. It’s easier to take the remote control from the viewers and leave them with just static and filler. That is why chavistas are so good at taking channels away, and so bad at filling the void they leave behind.
UPDATE: In the last couple of days, Internet has been also victim of a big crackdown by CONATEL and CANTV, which included blocking images on Twitter. Mr. Castillo’s excuse is what he called “electronic war scheme”.
For more details on this online crackdown, there’s this post by web developer Jose Luis Rivas.