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Wed Oct 3, 2012, 04:14 PM

On Media Bias in Venezuela

Published on Wednesday, October 3, 2012 by The Americas Blog / CEPR

On Media Bias in Venezuela

by Mark Weisbrot

Everywhere you look, there are people who are taking seriously the claim that Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez has a big media advantage over the opposition in the upcoming elections. The Committee to Protect Journalists, in their latest report (PDF) on Venezuela, states that “a vast state media presence echoes the government’s positions,” and refers to the government as having a “media empire.”

From the Wilson Center’s latest report (PDF), we read: “Media coverage is not even moderately balanced. . . . In television, the government’s predominance is overwhelming; it was estimated that by 2007 it controlled seven national television channels and 35 open community channels."

These statements are false and misleading, but they are adopted uncritically in almost all mainstream media coverage. In fact, state TV had about 5.9 percent of the audience that watches television in Venezuela in 2009-2010. These data were gathered by AGB Panamericana de Venezuela Medición S.A., a local affiliate of Nielsen Media Research International, and are probably as reliable as Nielsen ratings in the United States. The data were collected through equipment boxes placed in each home, measuring minutes of each channel watched. A representative sample of 1000 households was constructed and data were gathered over ten years.

Thus, the above statements are similar to claiming that PBS TV, the public TV in the U.S., dominates broadcast TV in the United States. Most of the major newspapers (e.g., El Nacional, El Universal) are also strongly against the government. According to CONATEL data, only about 14 percent of radio is publicly owned; and since there is more strongly anti-government radio in Venezuela than TV, the opposition almost certainly has more advantage in radio than in other media.


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Reply On Media Bias in Venezuela (Original post)
Judi Lynn Oct 2012 OP
Judi Lynn Oct 2012 #1
Judi Lynn Oct 2012 #2
kenny blankenship Oct 2012 #3

Response to Judi Lynn (Original post)

Wed Oct 3, 2012, 04:34 PM

1. Balanced coverage or western bias against Chávez in Venezuela?

Balanced coverage or western bias against Chávez in Venezuela?
The Guardian, Wednesday 3 October 2012 16.00 EDT

Jonathan Watts and Virginia Lopez ("Chávez's rival would forget global revolution", 1 October) report that Venezuelan opposition candidate Henrique Capriles "would end the Chávez policy of promoting worldwide revolution and focus on Venezuela's needs".

Under Chávez, oil revenue, 80% of which previously went abroad, has been recovered for investment in infrastructure and social programmes; free healthcare and education has been made available for the first time to the poor; staple foodstuffs have been made available at reasonable prices through public distribution networks; railways, roads and port facilities are being expanded at an unprecedented rate; and innovative forms of communal self-government and public accountability are making Venezuela a model of participatory democracy. This, surely, is to "focus on Venezuela's needs".

In stark contrast, Henrique Capriles' programme of privatisation, austerity and neoliberalism would return the country to the poverty and stagnation of the "lost decades" of the 1980s and 1990s. Watts and Lopez quote Capriles as describing himself as a political centrist "who looks to the left", but this is mere rhetoric coming from a man who belongs to one of the wealthiest families in Venezuela and whose political record includes alleged support for the 2002 anti-Chávez coup.

Your reporters say "polls suggest that the race may be tight", but most polls (including the usually reliable Datanalysis and Hinterlaces) give Chávez a lead of 10 to 15%. Every time there is an election in Venezuela, the media paint a picture of a neck-and-neck race and suggest that Chávez is losing support, but in every presidential election or referendum he has won by margins ranging from 12 to 26%. There is little reason to anticipate a massive change this time.


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Response to Judi Lynn (Original post)

Wed Oct 3, 2012, 06:32 PM

2. 'Why the US Demonizes Venezuala's Democracy'

Wednesday, October 03, 2012
'Why the US Demonizes Venezuala's Democracy'

Hoping you'll help me sort out the truth about Venezuela. Is this correct?:

Why the US demonises Venezuala's democracy, by Mark Weisbrot, CIF: ...On 30 May, Dan Rather, one of America's best-known journalists, announced that Venezuelan president Hugo Chávez would die "in a couple of months at most." Four months later Chávez is not only alive and campaigning but widely expected to win re-election on Sunday.

Such is the state of misrepresentation of Venezuela,... a journalist can say almost anything about Chávez or his government and it is unlikely to be challenged, so long as it is negative. Even worse, Rather referred to Chávez as "the dictator" – a term that few, if any, political scientists familiar with the country would countenance.

Here is what Jimmy Carter said about Venezuela's "dictatorship" a few weeks ago: "As a matter of fact, of the 92 elections that we've monitored, I would say that the election process in Venezuela is the best in the world." ... But because Washington has sought for more than a decade to delegitimize Venezuela's government, his ... comments went unreported in almost all of the US media. ...

The opposition will probably lose this election not because of the government's advantages of incumbency..., but because the living standards of the majority of Venezuelans have dramatically improved under Chávez..., poverty has been cut in half and extreme poverty by 70%. And this measures only cash income. Millions have access to healthcare for the first time, and college enrolment has doubled, with free tuition for many students. Inequality has also been considerably reduced. By contrast, the two decades that preceded Chávez amount to one of the worst economic failures in Latin America...


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Response to Judi Lynn (Reply #2)

Thu Oct 4, 2012, 12:44 AM

3. Because it is a democracy

not a demockracy foisted on them by our military or otherwise created in our own fraudulent image. The US corporatist establishment and its yellow press finds real democracy intolerable and works feverishly to stamp it out wherever it may crop up to prevent it catching on. Truly, we hate them for their freedoms.

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