Journalism groups criticize Venezuelan Supreme Court's ruling to seize assets of TV station Globovisión

By Isabela Fraga

The Inter American Press Association (IAPA) called the Venezuelan Supreme Court's decision to seize the assets of the TV station Globivisión for not paying a fee in 2011 a "blatant attack on press freedom." The World Association of Newspapers and News Publishers (WAN-IFRA) also criticized the Supreme Court's June 28th decision, saying it was an election-period political maneuver to repress the main news outlets that oppose the government, according to Globovisión.

On Friday, June 29, Globovisión payed the roughly $5.6 million fee to avoid the court order. The fine was imposed by the National Telecommunications Commission (Conatel in Spanish), which accused Globovisión of being biased and sensationalist during the coverage of a prison rebellion in June 2011.

In a press release published on June 29, IAPA reiterated that the fine imposed on Globovisión is "an excuse for censoring an independent news outlet" that has credibility with the public.

WAN-IFRA also warned, on Monday July 2, about the deterioration of Venezuelan press freedom reflected in the court's decision about the TV station. The organization had already expressed concern with the situation of independent news media in the country in relation to the upcoming presidential elections.

Likewise, Reporters Without Borders said the fee imposed on Globovisión was a very dangerous precedent for freedom of information, reported El Nacional. According to Reporters Without Borders, the sanction imposed by the Venezuelan court was disproportionate and impacts the survival of the TV station.

After the Venezuelan court's decision, the UN's Special Rapporteur for Freedom of Expression, Frank La Rue, characterized the situation as electoral censorship, reported 6to Poder. The National Journalists Union of Venezuela also condemned the court's decision, accusing the government of "establishing control over the country's consciousness."

Note from the editor: This story was originally published by the Knight Center’s blog Journalism in the Americas, the predecessor of LatAm Journalism Review.