Jun 20/07 (2) | Debusmann strikes again: Gustavo Cisneros is having a bad hair day...to say the least!
PMBComment: Earlier today I commented on an excellent article written by Reuter's Senior Correspondent Bernd Debusmann, now another article written by him and also with today's date has been brought to my attention. The subject of this article is one which I have covered in recent (and in not so recent) commentaries: the sharp contrast in behavior of Venezuela's two main private TV channels to pressure from the Chávez regime. RCTV, headed by Marcel Granier, was shuttered when it essentially refused to bow to pressure to change it's editorial line. Venevision, owned by the self proclaimed global entrepreneur Gustavo Cisneros, buckled shamelessly when President Chávez reportedly threatened to expose certain of his unsavory activities. The truth of what happened in that infamous Carter-Chavez-Cisneros meeting might come to light at some point from the person who acted as go between: Jimmy Carter of Plains, Georgia or from the one that informed that the world that it had indeed occurred (Carter's intention had been to keep it a secret): Hugo R. Chávez. If the facts of this meeting are not as widely reported, it is about time for Gustavo Cisneros, usually a self promoter of his every move, to level with both the people Venezuela and with those he has wined, dined and more in the world of power and influence which he covets above all. PMB
Wed Jun 20, 2007 11:47AM EDT
By Bernd Debusmann, Special Correspondent
The extra income could help media mogul Gustavo Cisernos reclaim his position as
"Gustavo wants to be number one, it's really important to him," said a
In terms of audience and advertising revenue, Venevision perpetually ran behind RCTV, the country's oldest TV network. For years, both were sharply critical of Chavez, who accused Cisneros and RCTV's director general, Marcel Granier, of involvement in plotting an abortive coup against him in 2002.
What happened since then highlights how part of the Venezuelan elite, many linked through family ties, have learned to coexist and prosper with Chavez despite his plans to bring "21st century socialism" and a classless society to the country.
After a meeting between Chavez and Cisneros brokered by former U.S. President Jimmy Carter in 2004, Venevision dropped its anti-Chavez tone. RCTV stepped it up. In May, the government renewed Venevision's broadcast license for five years and let RCTV's license expire.
The decision drew widespread condemnation in
"Overall, the money spent on TV advertising totals around $600 million," Granier said in a recent interview. "We had the biggest share. It's not difficult to guess where that share will go."
AT STAKE: $280 MILLION
Experts say that while it is far too early to get a clear picture on the redistribution of the advertising pie -- RCTV previously took around $280 million of the total -- a survey by the Datos company said 44.7% of those interviewed named Venevision as their favorite TV after RCTV went off the air.
Globovision, a 24-hour news channel which still broadcasts reports critical of the government, came second, with 32.5 percent. Chavez has repeatedly threatened to shut the network down and warned such a decision could be taken independent of when its license lapses.
Despite frosty relations now between Granier and Cisneros, the two are linked by family ties typical in the tight-knit world Chavez often terms "the oligarchy." The two media tycoons are married to cousins -- daughters of the Phelps family whose patriarch founded the conglomerate that embraces RCTV.
Reflecting opposition views widely heard in
Cisneros's response came in the form of a reader's letter to the New York Post denying there had been a Carter-brokered deal. The letter was signed by Antonieta Lopez, vice president corporate affairs of the Cisneros Group.
She is Halvorssen's aunt and godmother. They are distant relatives of the beer billionaire who shares the title of
Reuters journalists are subject to the Reuters Editorial Handbook which requires fair presentation and disclosure o