While campaigning ended last night, there were still some ads on VTV during the day for the NO vote, confirming that the CNE could care less. But the Government did its bit in promoting the Si vote when it basically showed the country for one hour and live, why the Chavez Government needs to be revoked.
At about 1 PM four employees of CONATEL, the telecom regulator showed up at Globovision, for what was called a “routine” visit by Conatel engineers. Routine visits are done by appointment, but anything is possible in this revolution. The Government officials began inspecting the TV station and were supposedly checking the frequency of transmissions, but clearly knew little about microwave and such things.
While all of this was taking place, other officials began showing up at the other three Caracas TV stations, Televen, RCTV and Venevision. Imagine four simultaneous “routine” visits to the four main private TV stations in the country.
The officials kept asking questions of how things worked, asking for things they could not ask for without a warrant and all of this was being seeing by most Venezuelans as these four stations have a rating of more than 80% of the Venezuelan audience.
Curiously no inspection was being carried out at the Government’s TV station VTV. Perhaps the funniest moment was when a reporter asked the President of Globovision if CONATEL had returned the microwave equipment taken from that station eight months ago, to which he replied that no, they had not, but he was hopeful that on Monday the new President Jose Vicente Rangel would order CONATEL to return it.
After about an hour of this harassment, all four teams from CONATEL got phone calls and they all suddenly left without an explanation or even filling the paperwork required from an inspection whether routine or not. A Director of CONATEL said that he ordered the procedures stopped because they could not create a “media show” with the routine inspections. However, the show was on, the international media had already gone to the stations and in one of them an interview with a CNE Director was interrupted by the inspection.
To top it all off, the Minister of Information and Telecommunications, Jesse Chacon came on TV (forcing all TV channels to carry the statement), to say that this was routine and it was to insure that there was enough bandwidth for international could carry the news of the recall referendum. Of course, he gave no explanation of why no inspection was carried out at the official TV station VTV.
All in all, good advertising for the Si vote, more harassment by the Government, but both Venezuela and the world were watching. Thank You Jesse!