Sun, Jul 01, 2012 - Page 7 News List

Venezuelan news channel fined US$2m

AP, CARACAS

People demonstrate in support of Globovision before the High Court in Caracas, Venezuela, on Friday. The sign reads: “There is nothing more difficult to hide than the truth.”

Photo: AFP

The Venezuelan television channel Globovision on Friday paid a fine of more than US$2 million imposed by regulators, calling it an unfair penalty, but saying it had no choice after the country’s Supreme Court ordered an embargo on its assets for nonpayment.

The channel, which takes a critical stance against Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez’s government, has been trying to challenge the fine imposed by regulators for its coverage of a prison uprising last year.

“We came to pay the unjust and disproportionate fine,” said Carlos Zuloaga, Globovision’s vice president, who spoke outside the Supreme Court building with other station executives, accompanied by employees and supporters.

Globovision paid the fine a day after the Supreme Court ordered an embargo on nearly US$5.7 million in assets belonging to the channel. Zuloaga said the station paid about 9.4 million bolivars, equivalent to US$2.2 million.

He said the court should immediately lift the embargo order now that the fine has been paid. He noted the channel still has legal appeals pending and said Globovision “is going to continue fighting.”

“We have an obligation to keep Globovision open,” he said.

Telecommunications regulators last year imposed the fine against Globovision accusing it of “apologizing for crime,” “altering the public order” and promoting political intolerance during its coverage of an intervention by troops to quash rioting at El Rodeo prison.

The telecommunication commission’s director-general, Pedro Maldonado, said at the time that Globovision had broadcast 18 emotional reports with relatives of the prisoners and repeated them almost 300 times over four days, adding the sound of gunfire over the reports.

The prison riot erupted in June last year after troops raided one of two adjacent prisons looking for weapons. The raid set off gunfights that left three dead and the standoff finally ended with negotiations after 27 days. Authorities said four inmates who escaped also were slain by soldiers.

Globovision has accused Chavez’s government of trying to shut it down and has said it has done nothing wrong. However, government officials have repeatedly accused the channel of violating broadcasting laws.

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