10 January 2013

Censorship of Globovisión brings IAPA protest

Miami (10 de enero de 2013).- La Sociedad Interamericana de Prensa (SIP) condenó la censura impuesta por un nuevo procedimiento administrativo del ente regulador de las telecomunicaciones en Venezuela contra el canal privado Globovisión, y pidió a las autoridades respetar el principio constitucional que prohíbe la censura previa.

Miami (January 10, 2013)—The Inter American Press Association (IAPA) today protested the imposition of censorship on the Venezuelan privately-owned television network Globovisión in a new administrative procedure by that nation’s telecommunications regulatory agency. The organization called on the authorities to respect a constitutional ban on prior censorship.

Officials of the National Telecommunications Council (Conatel) yesterday gave notice of the opening of an administrative procedure to penalize Globovisión for having broadcast four news items with images and statements by President Chávez and Vice President Nicolás Maduro which were contrasted with articles of the Constitution regarding the oath-taking of the Presidency and about shortcomings in the carrying out of the office.

According to Conatel the items “incite to hatred, anxiety and breakdown of public order,” for which it prohibited the transmission of those videos or any other piece with that same kind of content.

The chairman of the IAPA’s Committee on Freedom of the Press and Information, Claudio Paolillo, called the action “an act of censorship and legal harassment,” adding that “to ignore in the media such a delicate matter as the health of the head of state and his responsibilities in the office would be to disregard the basic principles of journalism and its role to inform.”

In October 2011 Conatel had ordered Globovisión to pay a fine of $2.1 million, which it did so in the middle of last year under protest in order to prevent the seizure of its assets and the revocation of its broadcasting license. Conatel took its action on the grounds that Globovisión had engaged in “advocating criminal behavior, upsetting public order and fomenting harassment of the people,” after covering a riot at the El Rodeo prison in June 2011 which left dozens of inmates and soldiers dead or wounded.

Paolillo, editor of the Montevideo, Uruguay, weekly Búsqueda, added that “it is inconceivable that in the situation that the country is passing through, concerning the health of President Chávez and his swearing-in as re-elected head of state, there is an attempt to silence independent voices in the face of a lack of information and official transparency about his condition, a matter of great concern and of national and international interest.”

Venezuela’s Legislative Assembly gave Chávez permission to be absent from the swearing-in ceremony, scheduled for today and which will have to take place on another date before the Supreme Court.

The IAPA is a not-for-profit organization dedicated to the defense and promotion of freedom of the press and of expression in the Americas. It is made up of more than 1,300 print publications from throughout the Western Hemisphere and is based in Miami, Florida.