Data Show State TV Has 5.4 Percent of the TV Audience
For Immediate Release: December 13, 2010 En Español
Contact: Dan Beeton, 202-239-1460
Washington, D.C.- A new issue brief looking at data on Venezuela TV audiences contradicts the widely believed -- and widely reported -- claim that the Chávez government dominates the television media. In reality, the paper finds the opposite is true: the state share of television audience is very small -- currently only 5.4 percent --while private, opposition-owned channels overwhelmingly dominate the television audience, with 61.4 percent watching privately owned TV channels, and 33.1 percent watching paid TV.
“Statements claiming the Venezuelan government ‘controls’ or ‘dominates’ the media are not only exaggerated, but simply false,” CEPR Co-Director and lead author of the paper, Mark Weisbrot, said.
These claims appear regularly in the major U.S. media and are almost never challenged. For example, in a description of Venezuela’s elections last September for the National Assembly, the Washington Post referred to the Chavez “regime’s domination of the media . . . .” In an interview on CNN, Lucy Morillon of Reporters Without Borders stated, “President Chavez controls most of the TV stations.”
The brief, “Television in Venezuela: Who Dominates the Media?”, from the Center for Economic and Policy Research in Washington, D.C., analyzes data from AGB Panamericana de Venezuela Medición S.A., a local affiliate of Nielsen Media Research International, for the years 2000-2010 and also finds that state television audiences have increased during times of political turmoil, such as during the failed April 2002 coup and the 2002-2003 oil strike.
“The most likely explanation for these spikes in state television viewers is that more people are interested in the news during these times, and so more want to get both sides of the story,” Weisbrot said. But even in these few brief spikes of state TV audience – lasting for no more than two or three months – the state TV audience share has never reached 10 percent, even for one month in the past decade.
The paper notes that the primary means through which the government seems to get its message out is through President Chávez himself, in the “cadenas”, or official speeches, that private broadcast TV channels are required to broadcast. In 2009, according to data from AGB Panamericana de Venezuela Medición S.A., these cadenas amounted to an average of about 24 minutes per day. While this has the potential to get the government’s message out more than the current share of state TV programming, it is difficult to measure its impact without data on how many people watch these speeches.