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President Chávez's attacks against private media weakens Venezuelan press, according to new CPJ report

  • By Guest
  • August 29, 2012

By Isabela Fraga

A special report about Venezuela on Wednesday, Aug. 29, by the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) called attention to President Hugo Chávez's harassment of the private press during the last 13 years, reported the newspaper La Nación. The report, titled "Venezuela's private media wither under Chávez assault," is the fourth CPJ has published about Venezuela ever since Chávez was elected president for the first time, in 1999.

According to CPJ, Chávez has used threats and restrictive measures -- such as the persecution of journalists that criticize the government, and other ways of criminalizing the press -- to undermine the private press's influence, reported El Universal. Events such as the seizure of TV Globovisión station and attempts to regulate Internet in Venezuela were reiterated in the story.

The weakening of the Venezuelan press during the period immediately preceding presidential elections in the country -- which take place in October and is polarized between Chávez and opposing candidate Henrique Capriles -- was also mentioned in CPJ's report, according to Yahoo Noticias. "During an election year, this means a lack of meaningful reporting on the airwaves and in newspapers, leaving voters ill-informed," said Monica Campbell, one of the authors of the report.

The report ends with recommendations for Venezuelan authorities about press freedom and freedom of expression. Among the suggestions is the need to guarantee press independence, transparency for the renewal, granting, and revoking of broadcast licenses, the nullification of private media's obligation to broadcast presidential speeches, and the guaranteeing that Venezuelan public media are not being manipulated or used for personal attacks.

Recently, other international organizations have warned about the decline of freedom of expression in Venezuela in this pre-election period. Espacio Publico published a report in July and said that the forced transmissions of presidential messages on radio and TV were a type of censorship. Also in July, Human Rights Watch published a story and said that the concentration of power in the country worsened freedom of expression. The World Association of Newspapers and News Publishers said that violence and censorship can undermine the Venezuelan press's role in the upcoming elections.

According to CPJ, Chávez has used threats and restrictive measures -- such as the persecution of journalists that criticize the government, and other ways of criminalizing the press -- to undermine the private press's influence, reported El Universal. Events such as the seizure of TV Globovisión station and attempts to regulate Internet in Venezuela were reiterated in the story.

The weakening of the Venezuelan press during the period immediately preceding presidential elections in the country -- which take place in October and is polarized between Chávez and opposing candidate Henrique Capriles -- was also mentioned in CPJ's report, according to Yahoo Noticias. "During an election year, this means a lack of meaningful reporting on the airwaves and in newspapers, leaving voters ill-informed," said Monica Campbell, one of the authors of the report.

The report ends with recommendations for Venezuelan authorities about press freedom and freedom of expression. Among the suggestions is the need to guarantee press independence, transparency for the renewal, granting, and revoking of broadcast licenses, the nullification of private media's obligation to broadcast presidential speeches, and the guaranteeing that Venezuelan public media are not being manipulated or used for personal attacks.

Recently, other international organizations have warned about the decline of freedom of expression in Venezuela in this pre-election period. Espacio Publico published a report in July and said that the forced transmissions of presidential messages on radio and TV were a type of censorship. Also in July, Human Rights Watch published a story and said that the concentration of power in the country worsened freedom of expression. The World Association of Newspapers and News Publishers said that violence and censorship can undermine the Venezuelan press's role in the upcoming elections.

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.

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