Venezuela’s Chavez Unplugs TV Enemy But Rewards Former Foe

Excellent article that will give you some perspective. This is the same Chavez that has not friends with the oligarchy. If you do not have time for all, please take a look on this paragraphs.

Published without permission of the authors as an alternative to emailing it.

(…) Venevisión is a key part of the Grupo Cisneros conglomerate, a corporation with interests in Latin America, Europe and the U.S. that boasts $3.5 billion in annual revenues. Forbes Magazine this year put Cisneros’ personal fortune at an estimated $6 billion.

(…)

Abroad, Cisneros controls a large stake in Univisión, the U.S.’ leading Spanish language television network, among other businesses which have brought him friendships with powerful figures such as former U.S. presidents George H.W. Bush and Jimmy Carter.

Indeed, Carter helped set up a meeting between Cisneros and Chavez in June 2004, which is largely seen as the turning point that brought the politician and businessman closer together. (…)

DowJones Newswires
http://www.djnewswires.com/

Venezuela’s Chavez Unplugs TV Enemy But Rewards Former Foe

1 June 2007

By Raul Gallegos

Of DOW JONES NEWSWIRES

CARACAS (Dow Jones)–President Hugo Chavez has faced street protests for shutting down an opposition-aligned television channel, but Venezuelan media mogul Gustavo Cisneros, a former Chavez opponent, won’t be complaining.

As Chavez let lapse the license of RCTV, the country’s largest and longest-running channel, the socialist president this week renewed for five years the license of Cisneros’ Venevisión, a station that reversed its anti-Chavez editorial line.

The decision favoring Cisneros, one of the richest men in Latin America, offers a glimpse of how Chavez selectively chooses to flex his muscles to consolidate power.

“With (other stations) we took a political decision,” Roy Chaderton, Venezuela’s special diplomatic envoy, said about Venevisión this week in Spain. “They have rectified and the government considered it positive for democracy.”

Venevisión officials declined comment for this article and a Cisneros Group press officer did not answer repeated requests for an interview.

It’s clear, however, that Cisneros’ cozy relationship with the government has given him a new edge in the local television business. With RCTV gone, Venevisión can now claim the top spot in a $2.3 billion television advertising market, where the government is typically the largest customer.

The channel, mostly known for its soap operas, took almost 28% of those advertising dollars last year, according to Antonio Pasquali, a Venezuelan media analyst, while 32% of the market was in RCTV’s hands.

Venevisión’s permit renewal “is the logical consequence of its political subordination,” to Chavez, Pasquali said.

Cisneros’ good fortune has not gone unnoticed in this oil-rich nation, where many people suspect he has struck a secret pact with Chavez to protect both their interests.

Students chanted insults against Cisneros outside the Organization of American States in Caracas Tuesday as they protested the RCTV closure. Opposition politicians and other media executives have also publicly accused Cisneros of selling out to Chavez.

Chavez and Venevisión have a long and checkered history together. The television station gave the former paratrooper plenty of air time during his successful run for the presidency in 1998, but that was before Chavez took office and embraced anti-business policies.

A failed attempt by opposition leaders to oust Chavez from office in April 2002 marked a low point in the relationship, as Venevisión appeared to support those seeking to remove the president. Venevisión, RCTV and other stations didn’t report Chavez’s return to power when the attempted coup floundered – some chose to run cartoons instead.

Safely back in power, Chavez often referred to Cisneros as a “coup plotter” who was responsible for his removal, a charge Cisneros vigorously denied.

Venezuela’s Elite Clan

The name Cisneros in Venezuela is akin to Rockefeller, the U.S. family that gained vast wealth and power after years of successful business ventures.

Venevisión is a key part of the Grupo Cisneros conglomerate, a corporation with interests in Latin America, Europe and the U.S. that boasts $3.5 billion in annual revenues. Forbes Magazine this year put Cisneros’ personal fortune at an estimated $6 billion.

In Venezuela, Cisneros owns, among other properties, the Leones de Caracas baseball club, and the Miss Venezuela pageant, as well as Venevisión. The Cisneros Group also owns a stake in the lucrative bottling rights for Coca-Cola in Venezuela.

Abroad, Cisneros controls a large stake in Univisión, the U.S.’ leading Spanish language television network, among other businesses which have brought him friendships with powerful figures such as former U.S. presidents George H.W. Bush and Jimmy Carter.

Indeed, Carter helped set up a meeting between Cisneros and Chavez in June 2004, which is largely seen as the turning point that brought the politician and businessman closer together.

The Venezuelan president has spoken publicly of the two-hour meeting, held in a military garrison, but has always denied a deal was struck. Following that encounter, however, Venevisión reversed course on its editorial policy, and is now virtually devoid of anti-Chavez content.

“It’s public knowledge that Gustavo Cisneros asked to meet with Chavez, and from that meeting an agreement came out in which Cisneros put the station at the government’s service,” said Teodoro Petkoff, a well-known newspaper editor and respected political figure.

Cisneros’ channel maintained that approach Sunday night, as RCTV’s screen went dark under government orders. Venevisión stuck to its regular programming, showing Hollywood movies.

The channel has also given scant coverage to the street protests in the days following the RCTV shutdown. A group of Venevisión reporters have made it a point to appear on Globovisión, a competing channel, to express their disagreement with the RCTV decision but they made no mention of Venevisión’s thin coverage.

“They’re kowtowing and self-censoring as a survival strategy,” said Robert Bottome, head of Veneconomía, a leading business publication. Bottome’s brother owns a stake in RCTV. “Whether this is a strategy that will work or not is anybody’s guess.”

-By Raul Gallegos; Dow Jones Newswires; +58-212-564-1339; raul.gallegos@dowjones.com

Corrected June 1, 2007 08:51 ET (12:51 GMT)

(END) Dow Jones Newswires

June 01, 2007 07:30 ET (11:30 GMT)

Copyright (c) 2007 Dow Jones & Company, Inc.

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One Comment to “Venezuela’s Chavez Unplugs TV Enemy But Rewards Former Foe”

  1. Hi

    Looks good! Very useful, good stuff. Good resources here. Thanks much!

    Bye

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