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Cablegate: Globovision Tv Plays with Fire; Burned a 6th Time

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PP RUEHAG RUEHROV RUEHSL RUEHSR
DE RUEHCV #1201/01 2581727
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
P 151727Z SEP 09
FM AMEMBASSY CARACAS
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 3697
INFO RUCNMEM/EU MEMBER STATES COLLECTIVE PRIORITY
RUEHWH/WESTERN HEMISPHERIC AFFAIRS DIPL POSTS PRIORITY
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C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 CARACAS 001201

SIPDIS

HQSOUTHCOM ALSO FOR POLAD
DEPARTMENT PASS TO AID/OTI (RPORTER)

E.O. 12958: DECL: 09/14/2024
TAGS: PGOV PHUM PREL KDEM VE
SUBJECT: GLOBOVISION TV PLAYS WITH FIRE; BURNED A 6TH TIME

REF: A. CARACAS 1174
B. CARACAS 1180
C. CARACAS 1013
D. CARACAS 1187

CARACAS 00001201 001.2 OF 002


Classified By: POLITICAL COUNSELOR ROBIN D. MEYER
REASON 1.4 (D)

1. (C) Summary: On September 7, CONATEL, the Venezuelan
government's telecommunications regulatory commission, opened
a sixth administrative proceeding against Globovision
Television, this time for its September 3 broadcast of text
messages from viewers warning of a coup and calling for
people to resist the government. CONATEL also asked
government prosecutors to open a criminal investigation into
the Globovision broadcast, which took place the evening
before the worldwide "No Mas Chavez" demonstrations were
scheduled to be held (refs a and b). Globovision has 10
working days (i.e., until September 21) to respond to the
charges. Globovision's broadcast of these controversial text
messages exposes the station to further investigation and
harassment, undermines its credibility, and potentially
hastens the demise of Venezuela's last remaining
opposition-oriented free-to-air network. End Summary.

---------------------------------------------
This Time, GLOBO Charged with Inciting a Coup
---------------------------------------------

2. (SBU) On September 4, CONATEL issued an Administrative
Resolution ("Providencia Administrativa") charging that
Globovision Television violated the "Law on Social
Responsibility in Radio and Television" by transmitting text
messages on the scrolling ticker at the bottom of the screen
that incited viewers to disrupt public order. The text
messages were shown during the September 3 broadcast of the
program "Good Night" ("Buenas Noches"). CONATEL highlighted
the following messages, several of which were repeated during
the course of the program:

-- "Urgent: Activate the networks of information, possible
coup... Alert for Friday in the early hours of the morning."

-- "We have to march and not abandon the street, happen what
may, and we must overthrow the tyrant once and for all.
Despite setbacks, move forward with urgency ("al mal paso
darle prisa")."

-- "Buenas Noches informs us about the aforesaid coup that
will take place tomorrow in the morning."

-- "Whoever announces the coup, don't worry about Chavez, he
is now safe with Kadafi."

-- "Here in Guatire we are all against Chavez, we will not
let him enter the country again. Out with Chavez."

-- "100 anti-gas masks and 300 persons to implement the
resistence-withdrawal-exchange-resistence plan to do battle
with the dictatorship."

3. (SBU) The "Administrative Resolution" orders the opening
of an administrative sanctions procedure against Kiko
Communications al Reves, C.A., and Corpomedios GV
Inversiones, C.A., the owners of Globovision, to determine if
the station's conduct was in violation of articles 28 and 29
of the "Law of Social Responsibility in Radio and
Television." Article 28(4)(x) provides for the suspension of
the airwaves, fines ranging from 1-2 percent of gross income,
and/or the suspension or revocation of the concession in
cases where messages are broadcast that incite the audience
to disobey the law. Article 29 provides for the suspension
for up to 72 continuous hours when messages are broadcast
that, inter alia, incite the audience to war, civil
disturbances, and crime, promote religious intolerance, and
are contrary to national security. The "Administrative
Resolution" stressed that the messages were transmitted in a
climate of tension and anxiety in which public demonstrations
were being promoted. A "No Mas Chavez" demonstration was
scheduled for September 4 and a demonstration against the
"criminalization of protest" was set for September 5 (refs a
and b). The "Administrative Resolution" gives Globovision 10
working days from the date of notification to respond to the
allegations.

4. (SBU) At the request of CONATEL's President, Diosdado
Cabello, who is also the Minister of Public Works and

CARACAS 00001201 002.2 OF 002


Housing, Caracas Metropolitan Public Prosecutor Rosa Bueno
Monsalvo initiated a simultaneous criminal investigation
against Globovision for allegedly inciting disrespect of the
law ("desconocimiento de las leyes").

-------------------------
Just Implementing the Law
-------------------------

5. (SBU) In a September 8 press conference, Cabello
repeatedly denied that the government's actions were intended
to suppress freedom of expression, stressing instead that the
opening of criminal and administrative investigations
represented the government's commitment to applying the law
equally to everyone, including the privileged classes that
had traditionally been above the law. He asserted that
CONATEL would hold the concession holders responsible for the
broadcasts calling for the assassination of Chavez and a coup
d'etat. According to Cabello, their conduct is, at heart,
anti-democratic. "We are going to see who has more
cartridges if war is war ... we are going to confront them
... with the law in front ("con la ley por delante"). He
argued that none of the concession holders would have a legal
basis for claiming that the government was acting
arbitrarily. "How it must pain them!" Cabello commented.
"They are not untouchable." Speaking more broadly about both
the television and radio stations that were being reviewed,
Cabello affirmed that the government was committed to
"democratizing the airwaves." Cabello made clear CONATEL's
role in this process: "CONATEL's importance to the country
is not only in regards to telecommunications, but as a
promoter of social welfare as well."

----------------------
Globovision's Response
----------------------

6. (C) Embassy reviewed the September 3 broadcast and
confirms that the messages cited by CONATEL were broadcast on
the "Buenas Noches" program. The ticker-feature, which
Globovision uses on other programs as well, encourages
viewers to send text messages expressing their political
opinions, which are then supposed to be filtered by
Globovision before being aired in virtually real-time. An
Embassy source at Globovision claimed in a conversation with
PAS Officer that the program's producer left the filtering to
an intern, who did not read all the messages before letting
them be aired. The Globovision employee acknowledged that,
"for the first time, we (Globo) don't know how to defend
ourselves." However, on September 11, Buenas Noches producer
Franciso Kico Bautista told the daily "El Nacional" that he
never would support violence or a coup d'etat and suggested
that the messages that appeared could have been put there by
the government or fabricated in a laboratory. He concluded
that the government's "intention is not to investigate, but
rather to close the media."

-------
COMMENT
-------

7. (C) To date, over 60 lawsuits and complaints have been
filed against Globovision in lower courts by pro-Chavez
supporters. While Globovision only captures 3.9 percent of
the free-to-air market share nationwide, it plays a
disproportionate role in shaping international news coverage
of Venezuela. Globovision is clearly playing with fire by
broadcasting incendiary messages, which undermine its
credibility and legitimacy and risk giving Chavez a stronger
and more compelling excuse for shutting it down. Meanwhile,
with headlines focused on Globovision, Chavez continues to
threaten to close more radio stations, which are the primary
means by which most Venezuelans get their news (ref b).
DUDDY

© Scoop Media

 
 
 
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