Venezuelan TV channel ordered to pay $2 million fine for prison riot coverage

The Venezuelan National Telecommunications Commission (Conatel) ordered the television channel Globovisión, known for its critical editorial stance toward President Hugo Chávez's government, to pay a nearly $2 million fine, reported the news agency EFE.

The commission said the fine was in response to the broadcaster's sensationalist and apologist "editorial behavior" during its coverage of the prison crisis that erupted in the country in June, reported Prensa Latina. This is the seventh case against the television station but the first based on actual coverage, not editorial content.

"There was no response from the administration regarding their defense of crime, lawbreaking, public disorder and civil unrest," said Contal President Pedro Maldonado.

According to Maldonado, the fine equals 7.5 percent of Globovisión's 2010 gross revenue and is to be "immediately executed." Globovisión's vice-president, María Fernanda Flores, says the fine is exaggerated and intends to "break the spirits" of the channel, according to iG. "This fine is impossible to pay. There is no way to pay this enormous quantity," Flores said.

Globovisión announced on its website that the decision would be appealed and will not interrupt regular broadcasting.

Chávez's government has a tense relationship with the press, punishing opposition media with closings, license suspensionsgovernment pressue and court injunctions.

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