English | News | 26 julio 2012

Chávez monopolizes airwaves for 15 hours in July, Capriles holds Facebook Forum (Foreign Policy)

Capriles held a Facebook Forum to combat Chávez abuse of State media[…] In order to continue making inroads [in the election campaign], [Henrique] Capriles must overcome a serious deficit in the airwaves. Venezuela’s Electoral Body is heavily restricting the amount of time each campaign can run ads on TV to no more than three minutes per day, per channel.

However, the Electoral Body lacks either the will or the power to restrict the mandatory transmission of the president’s speeches, which can run for hours on end, on every TV channel and radio station simultaneously — and which frequently contain campaign themes.

According to Citizen Monitoring (@StateMedia), a media watchdog, the government has monopolized the airwaves in this way for a total of 15 hours since the beginning of July. The group has even unveiled a Cadenómetro (a play on the word cadena, used for the president’s marathon broadcasts). It’s a clock that tallies the average number of hours the government spends on mandatory broadcasting each day. The Cadenómetro says that the Chávez government has spent, on average, 43 minutes per day touting its successes and promoting the President’s pep rallies — on each TV and radio station in the country.

This lopsided access to the media is just the tip of the iceberg as far as abuse of state resources for a campaign goes. Under these conditions, the Capriles campaign doesn’t really have a choice: It must use the Internet as a prime vehicle for getting its message across. So, yesterday’s Facebook Forum promises to be the first of many such events.

Complete original article by Juan Nagel and Francisco Toro in Foreign Policy

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