Carlos Correa, director of the Espacio Público media watchdog group, said Globovisión is clearly being targeted for its political point of view.
“Digital television has the potential to bring us a diversified number of channels,” he said. “But what we are seeing is that they are being restricted.”
The government says 94 percent of all households have television. Converting all of them to digital could take years. But Globovisión could be silenced before that, Antela said. The station is only broadcast in Caracas and Valencia, and reaches most of its viewers through satellite and cable providers. However, the government has new rules in place that only allow cable companies to carry channels that are also broadcast. That means that once the digital switch takes place in Caracas and Valencia — two cities where the government is already broadcasting digitally — Globovisión might be pulled off of cable also.
Globovisión has reason to worry. In 2007, the government refused to renew the license of the country’s largest broadcaster, RCTV. When the channel tired to make the move to cable, the rules were rewritten to knock it off the air. But the confrontation came at a price as students took the streets to defend the broadcaster and the government faced the ire of free-speech advocates.
By phasing Globovisión out, rather than revoking its license, the government might be trying to dampen the political backlash, Antela said.
“This is a death sentence for us,” he said. “Once a person is condemned, they might be alive for awhile, but the process has begun to deny them the right to live.”