Reuters quoted me on press freedom in Venezuela in the eigth paragraph of a story that ran with the headline “Under state pressure, Venezuela TV limits live coverage of protests”. It is much to Reuters’ credit that they allowed some dissent from the claim that Venezuela’s private media is muzzled. The article, in the seven paragraph, acknowledges that “the private networks, including Globovision, do give broadly equal weight to opposition and government leaders and supporters in broadcasts – contrary to assertions by critics that they muzzle the opposition”
Unfortunately, the headline and framing of the Reuters article are still very misleading. Below are notes I took on a Venevision news broadcast of May 26 that illustrates that very clearly. Protest coverage dominates that newscast. If this is what limited protest coverage looks like, I’m sure protesters in the United States and Canada would be lining up for this kind of “limited” coverage. In 2013, the Carter Center found that Venevision had the largest audience share for news of any state or private broadcaster.
1:29 Opens with report that Manuel Sosa died because, according to witnesses, armed people fired on protesters while the National Guard “dispersed them”. Notes that opposition-aligned governor of the state, Henri Flacon, demands justice for Sosa.
2:14 Reports that Conatel (media regulator) is investigating 15 radio stations for use of hate speech
2:49 – 3:57 Reports that 3 police being charged for murder of a student (Pugas Velasquez) during protest and also a few civilians for killing another protester Paul Moreno by running him over.
Lists names of the police charged
5:55 – 8:22 Goes to “la Avenida Victoria” with opposition protesters saying their right to protest is being blocked. Stalin Gonzalez accuses national guard of firing tear gas at person in a wheel chair.
Tear gas swells around reporter as he speaks near end of report
7:55 Camera zooms in on old lady being helped away from tear gas
Reporter repeats a few times that the protest is being blocked as if concerned that viewers might miss it.
10:06 – 10:31 Hiram Gavira expresses his “rejection” of the “fraud” constituent assembly initiated by President Maduro that he calls “inconvenient”, “unnecessary” and “unconstitutional”. Says that a referendum must be won by the side proposing an assembly before an assembly can be elected.
12:31-13:36 Reports on Oscar Fuentes a young who was hurt, not killed, during a protest. He was hit in the head by a projectile and is in serious but stable condition in an intensive care unit. Adds that 70 people have been arrested in this community.
14:46- 15:19 Reports on 31 arrests and 13 hurt during protests in the state of Guarico against announcement by CNE (the electoral body that just announced constituent assembly elections in July and set a regional election date of December 10)
Cites opposition legislator who says police illegally searched buildings and homes for protestors and that they now face prosecution in military courts.
16:35 Reports that Fedeacameras (biggest business federation) rejects Maduro’s constituent assembly initiative and quotes them as saying that it will only “deepen the political, social and economic crisis in the country”.
17:31-18:44 Reports that Ricard Blanco, opposition legislator, asks opposition supporters to respect journalists but then cuts to him saying that violence against journalists is fault of government and its supporters whom he labels “paramilitaries” .
18:45- 20:13 Reports that in in state of Tachira door to door gas distribution has been suspended due to protests and attacks on distributors. Cuts to people waiting in line for gas denouncing the hardships.
20:20 – 21:55 Reports that the Catholic Church NGO Caritas says government should approve humanitarian aid to address “nutritional deficits” that it says impact 54% of Venezuelan children.
Cuts to Susana Raffalli saying that 11% are in a “grave” state of malnutrition then repeats again that their figures say 54% have a least some level of nutritional deficiency.
She says there are misconceptions “by all sectors in the country” that humanitarian aid implies foreign intervention.
25:22 – 27:03 Reports that Colombia authorities say that in 2017 so far 242,469 Venezuelans have applied for a border crossing permit that allows them to work or study in Colombia.
Cuts to Kenner Hernandez, a young Venezuelan, who is an informal worker and amateur rapper in Cucuta, a Colombian state that borders Venezuela. Says has grandmother died because medicine she needed was not available in Venezuela.
31:51 – 32:20 Reports on detention of National Guard commander for death of opposition protester, Manual Sosa, who they mentioned at the beginning of the newscast (1:29).
42:32-44:01 Report on protests in the state of Bolivar – in what is reported as unsuccessful attempt to put up barricades on roads. Also says local merchants were doing a strike “cierre de duelo” to protest of the death of the protester Augusto Pugas (who was also mentioned earlier 2:49)