EspañolDiversity of content is in short supply on Venezuelan television and radio stations, according to a report from the Venezuela Press and Society Institute (IPYS). During the first nine months of 2014, the organization found that 1,116 news outlets broadcast 319 mandatory messages ordered by the Venezuelan government.
“Broadcasting messages over radio and television is a prerogative of the Venezuelan state, which has manipulated this vast communication power as an arbitrary mechanism to control content and the news agenda for partisan political purposes,” said the report, titled, “Venezuela: A Country in Chains.”
Between January 1 and September 30, government messages ran for a total of 8,460 minutes — the equivalent of one week of uninterrupted broadcasts.
The IPYS report found “state power is used to broadcast government messages, with a clear partisan, political interest, which represents only one sector of society.”
The broadcasts usually include attacks against “Venezuelan business groups, unions, and businesspeople,” who, according to the government, are waging an economic and psychological war to weaken President Nicolás Maduro.
IPYS identified 28 instances in which messages specifically targeted media outlets and journalists.
“[Government] criticism is focused on discrediting news coverage of the economy, public health, current events, and partisan issues,” the report states. The study also found the most heavy-handed criticism came earlier this year during protests against the Maduro government.
According to IPYS, “excessive use of official broadcasts can take the form of indirect censorship, when the goal is to prevent media coverage of live events that citizens have a right to know about.”
The study also demonstrates the abuse of official broadcasts began under the late Hugo Chávez (1999-2013). Between 1999 and 2012, his administration broadcast 2,364 government messages, totaling over 100,000 minutes, or more than 70 days of uninterrupted transmission.