Venezuelan broadcasting authority CONATEL has just ordered satellite TV provider DirecTV, to cancel plans to broadcast “La reina del Sur”, a 2011 soap opera about a Mexican woman (played by actress Kate del Castillo) who becomes the most powerful druglord in Spain. The 63-episode soap opera comes from U.S. network Telemundo, which planned to run the culebrón on its sister channel, Telemundo Internacional.

According to CONATEL’s Director-General William Castillo, “La Reina del Sur” is a “narco-novela”  which not only violates current legislation, but also promotes “anti-values” that could harm children. Apparently the Helen Lovejoy doctrine is law in Venezuela these days.

[UPDATE: To make it all more surreal – Carolina Acosta-Alzuru reminded us in comments to this post – La Reina del Sur has already been broadcast in Venezuela! It was on Venevision Plus (the cable-only sibling of main commercial station Venevision) in 2012. Not just that, the channel prided itself over the great ratings the narco-novela had at the time.]

CONATEL has banned similar shows in the past and Castillo’s predecessor Pedro Maldonado, had a similar stance. The government even banned “Family Guy” after being shocked, shocked! by an episode involving pot.

For those uninitiated, “Narco-novelas” is a soap sub-genre dealing with drug trafficking. According to their critics, they glamorizes the life of drug lords instead of showing the damage they cause.

The trend started in Colombia years ago, a country where drugs have influenced its recent history and the model has been copied overseas. Telemundo has deployed the genre to great effect, getting excellent ratings. Even Hollywood has noticed, with the recent Netflix show “Narcos”, about the early days of one Pablo Escobar. You’ve probably heard of that one, at least.

I’ve never watched a narco-novela, so I can’t really say. But you know what I do hate? Brazen censorship.

I seriously doubt this decision is about protecting the children. This is more about reminding local cable and satellite operators who the boss is. The letter asked DirecTV to “…select its content in accordance to the legislation”. Newsflash: Carriers can’t control what the channels put on the air or not. It isn’t their call. BTW, what you’re doing is just “preemptive censorship”, which is matter of fact, unconstitutional.

Let’s remember: this is not free-to-air broadcasting we’re talking about here. This is subscription TV, paid TV. There’s no imaginable public policy rationale for the state to determine what’s on the programming grid.

But maybe, there’s another reason for this: In recent months, multiple press reports have mentioned that several government officials are being investigated by the U.S., regarding their possible involvement in drug trafficking. Perhaps the idea is to ban narco-novelas so people can’t make any connection. Earlier this year, National Assembly speaker Diosdado Cabello denounced on his weekly TV show that another narco-novela, “El Señor de los Cielos”, had attacked him by putting a character named General Diosdado Carreño Arias (played by Venezuelan actor Franklin Virguez). Really subtle, those writers.

We can expect more of the same from CONATEL, we’re talking about an agency that once opened an investigation against a TV show that wasn’t ever shown in Venezuela, or planned to be shown in Venezuela, or intended to be shown in Venezuela, just because it used Nicolas Maduro and the PSUV instead of a generic villain.

But even if narco-novelas are banned from the airwaves, they can be found easily in any bootleg store. That battle is already lost.

23 COMMENTS

  1. I think this is preemptive subliminal brainwashing of the population in preparation for what is coming: the realization that BRV is a narco-state. Narcotics indicments is the name of the game and BRV now trying to soften blow with this deflection campaign which tries to place them as morally correct and superior. Real crazy shit the product of disordered minds.

  2. Just put a disclaimer at the beginning of the show. It should be up to the parents to determine the content or material which their children are exposed.

  3. You’ve hit the nail on the head, has dado en el clavo, Gustavo, it’s about “El Señor de los Cielos 3.” In short, se están curando en “salud.” “Health,” of course, being a relative term when we speak of the Venezuelan government. And, by the way, Venevision Plus already broadcast “La Reina del Sur” back in 2012.

  4. there is nothing violent in these novelas. have seem them all. They are made for TV. There is no profanity and the violence is hardly there. But there is good acting and good storylines.

  5. I’ve always found it funny when the authorities want to kill the messenger for the message. If there are idiots reading this: These same shows are seen in Spain. And the U.S. The same violent movies seen here are shown in Germany and in Korea. And they don’t have our level of violence.

    But it’s way easier to censor a show, or movies, than fix the whole judiciary and prison system of the country, for which you’d actually have to sit down, work and think.

    (I know they used the censorship law as a way to silence the media, but I’m attacking the argument that this is done “for the children”).

  6. It’s absurd. If this narco regime was serious about eliminating the transmission of narco culture they’d pretty much have to ban all music, for starters. The real concern about television shows seems pretty obvious: embarassment.

  7. Not completely related but: Venezuelans do not really have detective series or the like. The funny thing is that the more crime a country has, the least those series are bound to appear.They are incredibly popular in the Benelux and Germany and they are more so in Scandinavia.

    Imagine in Venezuela a series about a good policeman who is trying to solve murder cases. You can’t, I know.

  8. My family survives selling those series =D
    We can survive the crisis this way, and I can pay for my studies!

    YYeah, I know, piracy and morals, don’t care that much in this land.

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