Journalists Quit Venezuela TV News Channel in Censorship Row

Six senior journalists quit Venezuela’s main television news channel Globovision yesterday in protest at alleged interference by the government of President Nicolas Maduro.

The anchors and reporters resigned over the “abrupt, violent and aggressive” exit of creative director Leopoldo Castillo, who left Aug. 16 after 12 years at the channel, said Roberto Giusti, former host of talk show 33 Degrees. Castillo hasn’t commented on his departure.

The “conditions for conducting free journalism are absent from Globovision,” Giusti said by telephone from Caracas today.

Globovision, Venezuela’s only private channel specializing in news, was bought by three owners of Caracas-based insurance company Seguros La Vitalicia in May. The station has since stopped airing live speeches by opposition leader Henrique Capriles Radonski, according to former employees. It has also ended six news and current affairs programs and parted ways with 14 journalists to date.

The new owners are “censuring news and programs, blacklisting guests and trying to impose questions on some interviewers,” eight journalists said in a joint e-mailed statement late yesterday.

The channel’s prime time 7 p.m. slot yesterday was filled with a Colombian national news bulletin, followed by CNN archives.

Contentious History

Globovision was one of the stations branded by the late President Hugo Chavez as the “four horsemen of the apocalypse” for their role in a failed coup attempt against him in 2002.

Chavez was succeeded by his hand-picked successor Maduro in April.

Raul Gorrin, a director of Vitalicia and chairman of Globovision, said the channel will remain a platform for “the most diverse ideas and opinions, presented with respect and tolerance,” in a statement posted on Globovision’s website on Aug. 17.

Information Ministry spokesman Raimundo Urrechaga didn’t reply to e-mail and phone message seeking comment.

Globovision is one of Venezuela’s four most-watched stations, according to Caracas-based industry research company AGB Panamericana.

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