Venezuela fines TV channel for coverage of prison riots


Relatives of inmates of El Rodeo I and II penitentiaries cry outside the prisons compounds in Guatire, outskirts of Caracas.


Leo Ramirez

Venezuelan authorities fined a TV channel more than $2 million for its coverage of deadly prison riots.

Regulators said the channel Globovision sought to incite law-breaking and to alarm the populace with its coverage, reports EFE.

They accused Globovision of "taking in those days the 18 most emotional statements, the 18 most desperate statements, recording only those 18 and repeating them almost 300 times," referring to statements from family members of inmates.

The prison siege began in June when troops raided a prison outside of Caracas looking for weapons. A standoff ensued with heavily armed inmates holding parts of the prison, before Venezuelan troops finally regained control.

Twenty-five people died during the almost month-long siege.

Globovision is the only anti-Chavez channel still on the air in Venezuela. RCTV was forced off cable and satellite TV in 2010.

The fine is equivalent to 7.5 percent of Globovision's gross revenues last year.

Globovision Vice President Maria Fernanda Flores said the fine was "unpayable" and would lead to "the collapse of the channel," reports Al Jazeera.

She said Globovision would appeal the decision and called it a violation of press freedom.