Private, Opposition TV Continues to Dominate in Venezuela, New Paper Finds

For Immediate Release

Contact: 

Dan Beeton, 202-239-1460

Private, Opposition TV Continues to Dominate in Venezuela, New Paper Finds

Data Show State TV Has 5.4 Percent of the TV Audience

WASHINGTON - A new issue
brief
looking at data on Venezuela TV audiences contradicts the
widely believed -- and widely reported -- claim that the Chávez
government dominates the television media. In reality, the paper finds
the opposite is true: the state share of television audience is very
small -- currently only 5.4 percent --while private, opposition-owned
channels overwhelmingly dominate the television audience, with 61.4
percent watching privately owned TV channels, and 33.1 percent watching
paid TV.  

"Statements claiming the Venezuelan government ‘controls' or
‘dominates' the media are not only exaggerated, but simply false," CEPR
Co-Director and lead author of the paper, Mark
Weisbrot
, said.

These claims appear regularly in the major U.S. media and are almost
never challenged. For example, in a description of Venezuela's
elections last September for the National Assembly, the Washington
Post
referred
to the Chavez "regime's domination of the media . . . ."  In an interview
on CNN, Lucy Morillon of Reporters Without Borders stated, "President
Chavez controls most of the TV stations."  

The brief, "Television
in Venezuela: Who Dominates the Media?
", from the Center for
Economic and Policy Research in Washington, D.C., analyzes data from
AGB Panamericana de Venezuela Medición S.A., a local affiliate of
Nielsen Media Research International, for the years 2000-2010 and also
finds that state television audiences have increased during times of
political turmoil, such as during the failed April 2002 coup and the
2002-2003 oil strike.

"The most likely explanation for these spikes in state television
viewers is that more people are interested in the news during these
times, and so more want to get both sides of the story," Weisbrot said.
But even in these few brief spikes of state TV audience - lasting for
no more than two or three months - the state TV audience share has
never reached 10 percent, even for one month in the past decade.

The paper notes that the primary means through which the government
seems to get its message out is through President Chávez himself, in
the "cadenas", or official speeches, that private broadcast TV channels
are required to broadcast. In 2009, according to data from AGB
Panamericana de Venezuela Medición S.A., these cadenas amounted to an
average of about 24 minutes per day. While this has the potential to
get the government's message out more than the current share of state
TV programming, it is difficult to measure its impact without data on
how many people watch these speeches.

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The Center for Economic and Policy Research (CEPR) was established in 1999 to promote democratic debate on the most important economic and social issues that affect people's lives. In order for citizens to effectively exercise their voices in a democracy, they should be informed about the problems and choices that they face. CEPR is committed to presenting issues in an accurate and understandable manner, so that the public is better prepared to choose among the various policy options.

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