The Slow Death of Venezuelan Radio

t_escualidos_120More than five and a half years ago, the Venezuelan telecoms regulatory agency (CONATEL) ordered the shutdown of 32 radio stations, including five belonging to the private network CNB (Circuito Nacional Belfort).

Those CNB stations eventually became part of the State Media System (the main one in Caracas is now ANRadio, the National Assembly’s FM). All that’s left of CNB is the station they run in Merida (95.3 FM). It doesn’t hide that it’s reduced any polemical content in order to avoid troubles.

What the RCTV Case was in 2007 for our TV broadcasting, Conatel’s move against CNB was for our radio. This really matters as radio is a main source of news for a huge number of Venezuelans.

And the moves against radio stations across the country have not stopped, as this new report by NGO Instituto Prensa y Sociedad (IPYS) shows. Published by Armando.Info, goes into detail on how the radio landscape has drastically changed in places like Carabobo, Monagas, Barinas and Amazonas (a case that I wrote about in an earlier post).

In those States, radio is probably the most important way for people to get local information and the hegemony’s slow-but-steady approach to controlling it has worked: The frequencies end up either in the State’s direct or indirect hands (“community radio”) or go to private owners who prefer to minimize any news and opinion programs that could get them in trouble.

For example, a local broadcaster says that 95% of all radio stations in Monagas State are either with the hegemony or chose self-censorship. In Amazonas State, half of the radio stations are State-owned and the private ones left toned down their opinion content, to the point that Governor Liborio Guarulla admits he censors himself on his radio show.

Still, official numbers indicate that there are more private radio stations than public ones (community ones are not classified as public, even if most of them are closely related with the State). The central government likes to use that data to promote their defense: The hegemony is from the private sector and the State is just defending itself. But behind that argument lies the fact that many of those private owners simply chose to stay quiet in order to survive.

It could be said that this was to a certain degree the testing ground for the HegemonCorp. strategy that has taken over some of the country’s largest newspapers. Nelson Belfort, the head of CNB agrees: “Since the death of President Chavez, the M.O. is not closing, but buying. If you get tough, I close you down… but if you comply, I buy you.”


11 thoughts on “The Slow Death of Venezuelan Radio

  1. The Godfather style. “I’ll give you an offer you cant refuse”
    If you don’t sell, you will wakeup with the horse head in your bed.


  2. I find it rage inducing every time chavistas go on a rant saying the oppo has complete control of the media. Yeah, let’s forget they bought or closed most of what was critical to them. And let’s not forget cadenas. Ugh.


      • Another stupid comment you write.
        Firstly: the Venezuelan opposition is made up of Venezuelans who are much less likely to hate Venezuelans than the thugs who are in power in Venezuela, the military and boliburgueses who are plundering more even than the worst adecos, chavista leaders who are even promoting murder, involved in cocaine trafficking and the like.

        Secondly: you are transforming the old statement of X% of the media outlets (whether a one-man show very local radio only heard in a village to a national thing, the same to you) are in non-state radios to
        -> they belong to the opposition.
        Of course, that is rubbish.
        By the way: a lot of the private radios are content on avoiding any criticism of the regime.
        Most of the current outlets are “private” financed by the regime.


        • “Secondly: you are transforming the old statement of X% of the media outlets (whether a one-man show very local radio only heard in a village to a national thing, the same to you) are in non-state radios to
          -> they belong to the opposition.”

          Communication venues are valued -at the very least- in the terms of their reach or # of average listeners, according to you.

          If we follow through consistently, how important are international venues?

          Say, in communicating and forming an opinion on events that could justify an invasion in Venezuela or sanctions to Venezuela?


          • “Over 80% of media outlets are controlled by the Venezuelan-hating opposition.”

            Let’s make a list, and let’s start with national broadcast television networks.

            Stations that openly support the government:

            Self-censored stations or stations bought (indirectly or directly) by the government:

            Neutral (have nothing to do with politics):
            Vale TV

            Anti-government stations:

            We can make similar lists for regional TV stations or for Radio stations.

            I only have one more thing to say to you, dspur: you are so full of shit.


          • Who the hell is going to invade Venezuela??!! Do you think the US gives a rats ass about Venezuela now that its producing more oil than it can consume? Maduro is doing such a great job at destroying the country that no one needs to do anything but sit back and watch the country implode.

            Maybe to locals international news outlets are important for the reason that Gustavo mentions in his post: either you play ball and censor yourself or get taken out by the government. In this scenario, there’s no freedom of expression locally so you have to look outside to get the real news, not blindly accept another rehash of an invented right wing conspiracy to excuse the crap job your government is doing.


  3. Gustavo, it’s Belfort. Good/important post. The Govt. constantly refers to an “ofensiva mediatica” against them, when the opposite, an “ofensiva mediatica” for them, is the reality.


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