Photo: Efecto Cocuyo, retrieved.
In the end, the “communicational hegemony” didn’t disappoint: TV and Internet coverage of the Venezuela Aid Live concert held yesterday, February 22, was thwarted by censorship in the country.
The two cable channels carrying the event live (NatGeo and Antena 3 Internacional) were taken off the air between 3 and 4 p.m without warning by the main carriers in the country.
According to journalist Melanio Escobar, sources said the orders came from broadcasting regulator CONATEL, which threatened their boards with jail time if they refused to comply.
So far, neither the State agency nor any of the companies have offered any formal statement.
De manera ajena a nuestra voluntad y por cuestiones que afectan a operadores locales, hemos sabido que la señal de #Antena3Internacional no puede verse correctamente en Venezuela. Sentimos las molestias. Seguiremos informando en redes sociales sobre el #VenezuelaLiveAid
— Antena 3 Internac. (@antena3int) February 22, 2019
Antena 3 Internacional confirmed on its official Twitter account that “for matters that affect local operators,” their signal in Venezuela couldn’t be seen. NatGeo hasn’t said anything yet.
Surprisingly, the concert was allowed to broadcast without problem since its start at noon and even Globovision did some “blink and you miss it” coverage.
At the same time that the cable broadcasts were cut abruptly, Internet monitor VeSinFiltro reported that the Venezuela Aid Live website and streaming were being blocked by main Internet providers in the country. Netblocks later confirmed that YouTube, Bing and Google services were blocked in Venezuela during key parts of the concert.
That didn’t stop social networks from exploding with footage and the surprise appearance of Juan Guaidó at the concert. In the end, chavismo’s efforts were for naught.
However, the escalation of harsh censorship tactics during the last month has no precedent in our history and shows the State’s obsession on trying to control all flow of information and debate. This arrogant and irrational way of behavior is simply a clear signal of weakness, not strength.