Listening Post

Venezuela: Maduro's media war

Amid accusations of an 'information blockade' we examine the Venezuelan president's relationship with the media.

Last updated: 14 Dec 2013 13:02
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Hugo Chavez may be gone but his successor, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro, is doing double time to fill the media gap left by his larger-than-life predecessor.

In the run up to mayoral elections on December 8, Maduro worked the airwaves harder than Chavez ever did, securing victory in the polls despite Venezuela's dire economic woes.

But while Maduro complained aloud that his socialist government was the victim of attacks by an enemy, "bourgeois" media, the reality was a media battleground tilting ever more strongly towards the government. The opposition accused the government of an outright 'information blockade.

The opposition media have been forced into a corner, with the most recent development being the breakup of the Globovision empire and its sale to pro-Maduro business interests - payback for its open support of an anti-Chavez coup attempt in 2002. 

Maduro may lack the Chavez charisma but he is clearly intent on using the airwaves to counter criticism he says comes from right-wing elites intent on ousting him and the Venezuelan socialist revolution.

Talking us through the story this week are Oscar Lucien, a columnist for El Nacional; Roberto Giusti, a columnist and broadcaster; Igor Molina, from Venezuela's state telecommunications regulator, Conatel; and Dr Jairo Lugo-Ocando from the University of Sheffield.

In this week's Newsbytes: Vladimir Putin dissolves a decades-old state news agency, ushering in a new era of pro-Kremlin media; news emerges of two foreign journalists kidnapped and held for three months in Syria; and Turkey's Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan expresses outrage at a journalist and paper that dared to publish secret government documents.

This week's feature concerns a new twist on a familiar story. For years, new media has eroded markets traditionally held by the mainstream TV and print news outlets but the recent purchase of the Washington Post by Amazon founder Jeff Bezos and the anticipation of a brand new media player funded by Ebay's Pierre Omidyar suggest the beginning of a new era.

So are dot-com billionaires here to save the media as we know it, or will they change the news business forever? Listening Post's Meenakshi Ravi takes a closer look.

Our Web Video of the Week is an opportunity for us to pay tribute to Nelson Mandela who died on December 5. While media retrospectives are devoting hours of programming to Mandela's "long walk to freedom", this short animation, produced by South African digital company, Prezence, manages to tell the story of one of the 20th century's greatest figures, through the tweets, updates and comments of 21st century social media.

Listening Post  can be seen each week at the following times GMT: Saturday: 0830, 1930; Sunday: 1430; Monday: 0430. 

Click here  for more  Listening Post  


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