The Assembly will not be televised – it will be streamed

Yesterday’s session of the National Assembly actually lived up to the use of the term “extraordinary,” for better or worse. As events unfolded first inside and later outside the Legislative Palace, something else was happening: while the government was able to keep them off the airwaves, you can’t keep things off the internet. In the end, the hegemony succeeded, yet it failed.

Side by side broadcast of CapitolioTV stream and Venezolana de Televisión.
Side by side broadcast of CapitolioTV stream and Venezolana de Televisión.

Save for the odd ceremonial function, having the Assembly meet on a Sunday was already unusual. As the start of the session drew near, we wondered if any broadcaster would have the balls — and the freedom — to carry it live.

Globovision, showed brief snippets, but most TV channels went on with their regular programming.

Itdidn’t matter: The National Assembly set up a live stream through El Capitolio TV, the replacement for ANTV (which was hijacked by the government).

Th plan was to formally launch El Capitolio TV this week, but life came at them too fast. This is no time for grand openings, so they just started operations without making much fuss. Sunday’s special session was their third full broadcast, but became their biggest one instantly, with 104,000 people watching at one point. In comparison, the last edition of “En Contacto con Maduro” (current version of Aló Presidente) got only 20 viewers at one moment.

It was quite nice that me and my whole family saw it via Caracas Chronicles, which carried the livestream.

In the end, the hegemony succeeded, yet it failed.

Yet, ANTV also made visible its presence yesterday, with its unique take on the events. Under the excuse of “stopping a parliamentary coup”, ANTV’s coverage set the tone for the following colectivo attack of the National Assembly. To consider this event as spontaneous is simply misleading. ANTV just pushed the narrative that other propaganda outlets later took up.

Funny that right after ANTV was seized by the hegemony, Chavista Deputy Dario Vivas (who led the channel for eight years) promised that the channel would be “alternative media”. Seems like he confused alternative with bizarro. Incidentally, ANTV is still on “test stage” after more than ten months.

The colectivo takeover of the Assembly floor made for dramatic viewing online. As the saying goes, no good deed goes unpunished: once again local journalists were among the victims of open political violence, with two media outlets reporting their equipment was stolen at gunpoint, one journalist assaulted and another one threatened. In the meantime, the hegemony is trying its best to spin the events, but there’s too much evidence around for tall tales to stick. Even if the local airwaves gave in to intimidation, they couldn’t stop the news from reaching ordinary Venezuelans.

Streaming has changed the rules of the media game. It’s not just news, it’s how we listen music. How we watch TV and movies. Yesterday, it changed Venezuelan politics a little bit.

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