Venezuela’s Last Anti-Chavez TV Station Globovision Being Sold

Venezuela’s Globovision, the last major television broadcaster openly critical of the government, may be sold after a costly battle with former President Hugo Chavez over its coverage of prison riots.

News anchor Leopoldo Castillo said yesterday that Juan Domingo Cordero, majority shareholder of Caracas-based insurance company Seguros La Vitalicia, is in negotiations with Globovision’s owners to purchase the channel. The sale will probably go ahead after elections next month to elect a new president following Chavez’s death March 5, Castillo said.

“Juan Domingo Cordero is involved in negotiations to buy Globovision,” Castillo said in televised remarks yesterday. “There is a willingness to sell.”

Chavez in 2007 shut down RCTV by revoking its broadcast license after he said the channel supported an attempted coup against him in 2002. Two other channels, Venevision and Televen, toned down their criticism of the government to remain on air.

Globovision clashed frequently with Chavez’s government. The station’s owners, Guillermo Zuloaga and Nelson Mezerhane in 2010 sought asylum in the U.S. after saying they would be subject to discrimination if they returned. Zuloaga was charged by authorities with hoarding vehicles at one of his homes in Caracas.

Globovision in 2011 was fined $2.2 million for its coverage of prison riots. The channel exaggerated the riots by only broadcasting the opinions of mothers and wives outside the prison who feared their relatives were being massacred by the National Guard, the telecommunications regulator said. Globovision denied the charges.

Castillo said the channel will continue with its editorial line until after the elections.

“What will Globovision do during the elections?” he said. “We will cover the elections, of course.”

Chavez’s chosen heir, acting President Nicolas Maduro, will face opposition leader Henrique Capriles Radonski in elections scheduled for April 14.

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