The CNN Excuse (Third Update)

Oh,the irony: Maduro complaining that CNN doesn’t cover his messages… while CNN covered his address live.

As the domestic media blackout continues, the government’s media hegemony has taken to targeting international news outlets. Last week, Colombian news channel NTN24 was summarily taken off of Venezuelan cable TV for covering the protests wrong.

That wasn’t all: yesterday, Nicolas Maduro announced that CNN will be dropped from all cable and satellite TV unless “…they rectify their coverage (on Venezuela)”. We’re past keeping up appearances about free speech and stuff. NTN24 set the stage: from now on, if you don’t toe the line, you can’t even go on cable – it’s that simple.

Still and all, there are some particular questions on the CNN case that need to be raised:

  1. If CNN is doing the same that NTN24, why didn’t the broadcast regulator, CONATEL suspend it inmediately? Why bother with threats and procedures?
  2. CNN (specially its Latin American affiliate CNN en Español or CÑN) is not covering the events around the clock like NTN24 was. Yes, the Venezuelan protests is one of the main news stories, but the channel has not changed their normal programming. Other stories like the Ukraine crisis or the North American summit in Mexico have also received attention but their regular shows like documentaries, showbiz or sports are running as usual.
  3. CNN has interviewed government officials, including Vice-President Elias Jaua, PSUV deputies, international supporters like Ignacio Ramonet and there was even a debate last night between pro-government and pro-opposition students. Also, CNN has simulcasted transmissions from the State Media System (SIBCI) like press conferences and cadenas. So, if they want to say their voices are not allowed there, they’re not telling the truth.
  4. If CNN is creating so much trouble for the government, so what does this say about Telesur, the international news channel created and funded mostly by the hegemony years ago? So, this can be said that such channel has been unsuccessful in its own coverage. In the end, all that effort (and money spent) has been in vain.

The thing is that Mr. Maduro, Information Minister Delcy Rodriguez and CONATEL Director-General William Castillo believe than by shutting down CNN, they will be able to pull abroad what they’re pulling here at home.

It’s true what Quico said that the international media has come late in the game, but as CC friend Daniel Lansberg-Rodríguez wrote in a recent post for Foreign Policy, the censorship has somehow backfired.

UPDATE # 1: CNN en Español has reported that their correspondents in Venezuela have had their official press credentials revoked. Their main newsanchor Patricia Janiot has left the country after Maduro’s threats. At this time, the channel is still broadcasting on cable and satellite TV carriers.

UPDATE # 2: The South American correspondent of Deutsche Welle TV Marc Koch publicly denounced that authorities in Caracas harrassed him and force him to erase all material recorded.

UPDATE # 3: CNN en Español is off the hook, for now. Maduro demands from them “equilibrium”. Perhaps he should lead by example and allow the very same thing in Telesur and the rest of the State Media System.