CONATEL goes after Deutsche Welle and DW Fights Back!

Under CONATEL’s orders, pay-TV carriers were forced to take down Deutsche Welle for broadcasting a documentary on Venezuela. As if this weren’t enough, they dismissed the incident reports as “fake news”.

Photo: DW retrieved

On the morning of August 4, the signal of Deutsche Welle (DW) was taken off the air from Venezuelan pay-TV services for an hour. The reason wasapparentlyto block the broadcast of the documentary film titled “Venezuela: Escape From a Failed State”.

Venezuelan journalist Gabriel Bastidas (along with other Twitter users) got confirmation from satellite TV provider DirecTV that this was done under orders of Venezuelan broadcasting and telecommunications regulator CONATEL.

But CONATEL denied it on its own Twitter account and catalogued  the reports as “fake news”.

This kind of censorship isn’t new in Venezuela, as last year several pay-TV carriers in border states were forced to block the Colombian channel RCN during the transmission of “El Comandante”, the TV series inspired in the life and times of the late Hugo Chávez Frías.

DW could at any moment face the very same fate of CNN en Español and Caracol TV.

That practice has gotten as far as to extend to local radio: Radio stations are getting requests from the broadcasting authority to withdraw programs. Some of them have no option but to comply.

On Monday, Deutsche Welle attempted to request information from CONATEL, with no response. Caracas Chronicles got a press release from DW addressing the incident, including this quote from Guido Baumhauer, DW’s Managing Director of Distribution, Marketing and Technology:

Interrupting the broadcast of DW’s documentary violates the right to free speech.

“Deutsche Welle protests against the interruption of DW’s broadcasts in the channels of several distribution partners during the emission of a documentary about the situation in Venezuela. Interrupting the broadcast of DW’s documentary violates the right to free speech…”

Baumhauser also showed his solidarity with the Venezuelan press and specially with the journalists detained after the alleged attempt on Nicolas Maduro’s life and released hours later.

Still, the government’s pressure against non-hegemony press is expected to continue: Diosdado Cabello blamed the press for its “involvement” in Saturday’s incident.

Our solidarity with DW for this uncalled and unjustified act of censorship, which is a natural consequence of offering a well-rounded coverage of Venezuela.

Update: The documentary was also blocked on YouTube.

It used to be available here.