Two weeks ago, no one expected that one of the first controversies between the outgoing chavista-controlled National Assembly and the MUD’s new majority would be about the fate of the two media outlets that belong to the Venezuelan parliament.

As Daniel Cadena Jordan recently wrote, ANTV and AN-Radio have been at the center of a heated polemic. ANTV was created in 2005 to cover the sessions of our National Assembly, originally as a kind of criollo C-SPAN.

But ANTV turned out to be nothing like a C-SPAN. Even if it’s legally part of the Legislative Branch, it’s a member of the State Media System (SIBCI), under control of the Communication and Information Ministry. Indeed, the content on ANTV and AN-Radio is indistinguishable from what you find on any state-run propaganda outlet: loud, strident, unfailingly partisan invective.

Following PSUV’s electoral drubbing on 6D, and afraid of losing one element of the communicational hegemony, outgoing AN chair Diosdado Cabello just “ordered” to broadcasting authority CONATEL giving away the full control of both outlets to their workers. But apparently, those workers were kept out of the loop before this announcement.

What’s more, some of them are outright rejecting the move, because it isn’t what they actually want at all. They don’t want to “own” the channel, they want the guarantees on job security, salaries and benefits they’d get as public employees, and Diosdado’s move takes them farther from that, not nearer.

As both ANTV and their hegemony partners get busy playing the victim card, it’s important to point out that, however crass Ramos Allup’s language may have been, his main points are more than vaild: neither ANTV nor AN-Radio do anything like responsible journalism. Matter of fact, NGO IPYS just released a study of the channel’s programming last month and confirmed how it dedicated almost exclusively to campaign for the PSUV-GPP and its candidates.

 

And what about the workers, you ask? The idea that Cabello’s move is meant to protect them makes little sense. Recently, Luis Eduardo Ynciarte one of ANTV’s anchors, resigned live on air (you can see the video above), complining over his pitiful salary. And earlier in October, several ANTV’s workers were fired because they tried to form an independent union. Some of them directly blamed Diosdado Cabello and fellow PSUV MP Dario Vivas (who’s the head of ANTV) for the dismissals.

Right after the 2010 election, ANTV became the only authorized source of information inside the Assembly’s premises, thanks to a legal reform which banned all journalists of the sessions chamber and forced them into a tiny press room. Opposition MP only appear in ANTV during live coverage and even then the channel did whatever it takes to minimize their presence. I don’t remember a single time when a member of the MUD was interviewed there or a MUD’s press conference was shown live. And if something the government didn’t want known happened on the floor of the AN – say, if pro-government assembly members decided to beat up their opposition counterparts ANTV could just point the cameras in the other direction. And did. If nobody happened to snap a cell-phone video, you’d never know it happened.

In the case of AN-Radio, there’s no much to say about its content but plenty about its creation: The frequency used by the station was formerly the flagship station of the Circuito Nacional Belford (CNB), seized by CONATEL in 2009. Who know who was the head of CONATEL back then?

Diosdado Cabello, of course.

Everyone can see this stuff about protecting the ANTV and AN-Radio workers is a pretext. What they’re really afraid of is the idea of a channel open to all political points of view (even those not represented in the new National Assembly, like dissident chavismo) and capable of defusing both the political polarization and the rigid control of the State’s hegemony.

It’s an new feeling for me, finding I agree with Henry Ramos Allup on something. I won’t endorse an oppostion-only ANTV or AN-Radio to keep doing the very same things Chavismo has done so far with them. But if ANTV can be coaxed into a minimal of professionalism and impartiality, we’ll be all the better for it.

One tiny request: Julio, don’t put any given assemblymember in charge of these stations. Legislators were elected to legislate, no to run media,

 

17 COMMENTS

  1. The legislature should: Fund the channel big-time; bring in some on-air professionals (maybe from the diaspora?), boost its signal so every Venezuelan can see it, and run a fair, non-partisan news service with room for all points of view.

    Chavismo specifically should get fair coverage, a preview of the fair treatment they will get when New Venezuela finally becomes a reality.

    • Not saying they shouldn’t try, but I suspect that Chavismo will simply suspend their broadcast license and confiscate their equipment. Right now, Chavismo has signaled that they will block or not recognize everything the new AN does, thus setting the stage for a confrontation sooner rather than later. The recent rhetoric shows a disposition toward completely dispensing with the Constitution. The 5th of January (5E?) promises to be “interesting”.

  2. Before you all go over the top any more than you already have after the resoundung victory of the opposition in winning the AN elections, I suggest you watch this video from yesterday in Caracas whose content is a bucket of cold wáter for many right wing extremists whi think that they now “control the country”.

    The last 7 or 8 minutes are very interesting as Escarrá points out the popular counterblance to the right wing dominated AN and how it works.

    For example – Ley de Aministpa or a Decreto Parliamentario – forget it. Privatize CANTV – forget it – ANTV – a battle is on and unfirtunately bocones like Ramos Allup do your cause more harm tan good.

    As Escarrá says: “La revolución es constiucional!”.

    And this is without evne thinking about Article 236 nr. 21…………

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=F3PrtLEiPrs#t=13

    As usual I await your pedantic BS.

    • “…pedantic BS.”

      You mean that stuff that the Chavista government has been shoveling for years, and that the vast majority of the Venezuelan public now recognizes for what it is? Save it, Arturo. You and your ilk have been exposed for what you are.

      In any case, thanks for the video link. I think everyone should watch it. It clearly illuminates the new strategy that the Regime intends to employ to suborn the Constitution against the will of the Venezuelan majority. I find it fascinating that Escarrá continues to use the phrase “poder popular”. This is delusional. The Venezuelan public (and the whole world) is very clear about which side commands this power, and it is not the Chavistas. The only public power Chavismo has left is to bully and threaten. And, the more they use this power overtly, the more they estrange themselves from the public and the rest of the modern world. Face it, your in moment in the sun is over. You cannot win. The only thing you can accomplish is further destruction. Is this want you want Chavsimo to be remembered for? A monumentally destructive temper tantrum?

      If the Chavistas can accept the role of being a minority opposition, they can still influence policy (even if they won’t be able to steal with impunity any longer). If they choose confrontation and destruction, they will be discredited and reviled for all time. Choose wisely.

    • Arturo

      The ANTV has been a shameless propaganda piece for the PSUV. That’s undeniable. It should be a neutral outlet, like CSPAN.

      Government funds should not go towards propaganda for one political party (let alone one overwhelmingly rejected at the polls!!).

      What argument can you seriously have against that?

    • {As Escarrá says: “La revolución es constiucional!”.}

      Where in the constitution does it say that the “Parlamento Comunal Nacional” can sit in the Palacio Federal Legislativo and make national policy proposals?

    • My Pedantic BS: If you win 2/3rds of the seats in the National Assembly, you get to make the laws. Oh the sophistry!!!!!!

      Las cuentas claras y el chocolate espeso

  3. As Escarrá says: “La revolución es constiucional!”.

    If Chavismo followed its own Constitution, that statement would have more force.

  4. ANTV is currently a disgusting piece of chavista propaganda, nothing more. We’ll see if the opposition manages to snatch it away from the PSUV’s vile claws. And like you say, make it report actual balanced information, not just propaganda for the opposition-

  5. Arturo needs to bone up a bit on “the English.” And the notion that anyone not in Godgiven’s camp in “right wing” is itself a piece of foolish propaganda. You lost, Chamo. Adios…

  6. It is important to have all publicly funded media (whoever owns them) – antv, vtv etc- mandatorily give space to all political opinions or to neutral news coverage on an equitable or even regulated basis under penalty of losing their funding or having their directors fined or fired. Ordinary citizens have the right to access information on all public matters and issues as they become discussed in the NA , this is consistent with a democratic free speech system which our Constitution enshrines , If only one side is allowed to use publicly funded media then they no longer serve a public interest but a partisan interest and lose any right to being publicly funded. Chavista views should be as scrupulously broadcast as oppo views without preference . !! Revoking the license to these publicly funded media should require the support of a congresional commission overseeing freedom of the press

    To reinstitutionalize public institutions this sort of rules or principles should be made into law.

    • I agree with you 100%,

      I think the law for those thing you are proposing are already in place, what we need is to enforce those laws that prevents these kind of overreach. We don’t need any more laws, what we need is for people is to respect those laws and to be enforced by the Comptroller, CNE, TSJ and other public institutions.

      Plain and clear

  7. Thanks Carlos , wonder whether the law (which if it exists I havent read ) is specific on the exact manner of its enforcement , dont know that such law contains sanctions applicable for those that violate it . Often laws are drafted using broad generalized wording but lack the specificity that makes them capable of enforceament .!! Usually law makers are good at verbalizing the ideas inspiring law but deficient in providing for the mechanics whereby they can be applied !

  8. […] The outgoing AN’s leadership has kept its pledge to hand full control of the station to its “workers”. PSUV A.N. member Dario Vivas and  ANTV Chairman confirmed this in a press conference on December 30th. The dubious legal manuver is seen by some as a clear violation of Article 73 of the Telecommunications Law. But broadcasting authority CONATEL didn’t say anything, of course. […]

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