By Liza Figueroa-Clark
CARACAS, Venezuela — Marcela Máspero, a National Coordinator for the pro-government union federation UNT (National Worker’s Union), announced yesterday that employees of the private opposition-aligned Radio Caracas Televisión (RCTV) station were working on a proposal to manage the station themselves, before the channel’s concession to broadcast on public airwaves expires in May.
Late December last year, Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez announced that RCTV’s license would not be renewed stating that the decision was a result of the channel’s failure to abide by Venezuelan law.
Coordinator Máspero said that RTCV workers affiliated to Sintraproav (Union of Professional Workers of the Audiovisual Media of Venezuela) were planning to hand in a proposal for taking over the signal after May 27 2007 in the next three weeks.
Willian Lara, Minister of Communication and Information, also made a statement regarding the channel’s signal yesterday, saying that RCTV would be a creation of the Venezuelan people.” Speaking at a forum organized by Aproni (Association of Independent National Producers) entitled “Towards the Television We Want,” Lara stated that the forum “must produce results, a concrete proposal as to what should be done with Channel 2 [RCTV], as well as opening the discussion about the democratization of the airwaves.”
Lara spoke as audiovisual producers, artists, intellectuals and analysts met at the forum to discuss proposals for the future of Venezuelan television.
Lara said that, “this signal will be managed on the basis of criteria established in the Constitution, open to Venezuelan society, to its pluralism, to its cultural, political and philosophical diversity, and therefore, in full compliance with the rules of the Law of Social Responsibility in Radio and Television.”
He also added that the proposals for the future of the signal, which are currently being evaluated, included the possibility of giving the license to a cooperative which specializes in the field, or to workers in the television industry. He reiterated that the infrastructure belongs to Channel 2 and that it is only the channel’s signal that is being recovered.
Different visions and currents
The UNT, which has around 600,000 members, is in the process of advising some of RCTV’s current workers on their management proposal. Oswaldo Vera, a National Coordinator of the UNT and MVR deputy to the National Assembly who has met with some of the workers on the issue, told Venezuelanalysis.com that the UNT did not have an official line on the matter.
“The UNT has different visions and currents. Within that, there is the current of Marcela Máspero, one that Orlando Chirinos belong to, and another which we belong to. We have some diverging criteria.” However, he added, “we all agree on the need for the workers to participate in one way or another in the new structure.”
In outlining his group’s vision, Vera said, “we believe that RCTV should be a sort of communicator of the Venezuelan people. What we are proposing is that it become a service where workers take part … but where there is also participation by organized social organizations such as labor organizations, union organizations, community organizations, youth organizations, women’s organizations, and the Venezuelan State.”
Vera explained that the proposal he aligns himself with is a co-management project, “so our proposal differs from the one made by Marcela Máspero in the sense that she only talks about a self-management project, that only the workers will go on to be part of the new channel.”
Lara welcomed initiatives on behalf of RCTV’s workers indicating that the new channel will be open to receiving the channel’s present workers, and encouraged them to take part in the new television station and to form new cooperatives.
In addition to proposals for worker participation, whatever form they may take, as of May 28, the channel will also be open to the public’s proposals for programming, according to Lara, who urged Venezuelans to contribute.
Proposals that came out of yesterday’s forum, will be analyzed by the National Executive, and the decision on the channel’s future lies in the hands of the President.
While it won’t be long before the results of the management proposals and programming initiatives are there for all to see, according to actor and independent national producer, Henry Galué, there will be a never before seen democratic opening in Venezuelan television. “[The channel] will go from being in the hands of one family who had the concession for over 50 years to an open and democratic space, where more than 10,500 independent producers will take part,” the actor said.
See also: Venezuelan Government Will Not Renew “Coup-Plotting” TV Station’s License