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Rise and development of Venezuelan television

Since 1980 the Venezuelan television industry has experienced a growing numerical and qualitative diversification that has not been affected in its progress by the difficult economic circumstances of the country. However, some sectors such as regional television and independent production have suffered some deterioration, which influences the competitive national programming and profit margins of many stations.

A great boom has characterized Venezuelan television in the last ten years, after forty-three of a slow development, when the incorporation of new channels occurred many years apart. Of four signals that existed in 1980, today this amount has multiplied six times and today there are 24 channels, either open, restricted and, mostly, regional, operating the national territory.

In 1952, under the dictatorial regime of Marcos Pérez Jiménez, the first channel, Televisora Nacional -TVN5- (Canal 5), owned by the State, went on the air, and the following year two emerged by private initiative: Televisa (Venevisión from 1960, Channel 4) and Radio Caracas Televisión (Channel 2). To these was added Cadena Venezolana de Televisión -CVTV- (Channel 8) in 1964, also with private capital.

In 1975, CVTV passed into the hands of an opulent government thanks to the massive influx of petrodollars in the wake of rising hydrocarbon prices. Thus, the State was left with 50% of the channels in its possession. However, from 1979 to 1990 ten VHF signals were granted to individuals – including the Church – and gradually began the concession of UHF and restricted broadcast channels. With this expansion, the state's share was reduced from 50% to 15% by this date, and even today it tends to fall much further, taking into account the approval of new television stations and the possible sale of TVN5 that currently operates by the simple repetition of the signal of its sister plant, VTV.

Indeed, in the short presidential term of Ramón J. Velásquez (1993) "77 concessions were granted indiscriminately," according to José Antonio Rodríguez, current president of Conatel, the body in charge of the administration of the television spectrum. This body seeks to reorder the spectrum from the prescription of most of these concessions to which the economic crisis of the country has slowed down in its exit to the air.

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Shaped by the forces of competition that governs between private channels, Venezuelan television is distributed today in a wide range led by the two main channels: Venevisión (VV) and Radio Caracas Televisión (RCTV), both companies that alternately have maintained the leadership in front of the audience. Venevisión, owned by the Cisneros Organization, is through Venevisión Internacional one of the two major marketers of television products in the world, according to the words of its corporate vice president, José Antonio Ríos. Venezuela Internacional in its "globalization" project became a shareholder along with Televisa de México of the North American channel Univision, which broadcasts part of its Venezuelan production. They also have investments in television from Chile and Puerto Rico.

For its part, Empresas IBC, an important multimedia group that owns RCTV , was founded by William Phelps and until today belongs to this family. This is also an important marketer, through its subsidiary Coral Pictures, of national products abroad through the sale of its dramatic spaces. This company, initiator of the boom of the Venezuelan telenovela abroad with Cristal, exports its products to more than 40 countries of the world.

Televen, which has become the third most important channel for its national coverage and audience, is the only one that exclusively uses the Intelsat satellite for its transmissions. The other two channels transmit by satellite only to cities of difficult access in the country (for Venezuela it has been impossible to purchase its own communications satellite, depending on the order of priority of national expenses). As a novel alternative (1995), the newly created Globovisión, a news channel that has impacted the capital's television audience, is backed by associated capital. Special mention deserves the Church that has several signals in the country. Televisora Andina de Mérida and Niños Cantores de Zulia, with independent branches in Zulia, Lara and Carabobo, Amazonas, Mérida and Táchira.

Ex post surveillance

When approaching the mechanism that governs Venezuelan television, it must be understood that the ability to authorize the exploitation of any communication system in the country belongs to the State, which has the power to grant or revoke its concession as established in the Telecommunications Law of 1940. Based on this, television channels must comply with the rules "of public order, individual security, laws or good customs." The Ministry of Transport and Communications, MTC, exercises ex post surveillance over the contents broadcast by the various channels. There is no prior control.

Carmen Márquez, of the MTC, affirms that "if a prior control measure is applied, it would be talking about censorship and attack on freedom of expression." Thus, it is the total domain of the television stations the planning, production and airing of the spaces contained in their daily programming, a situation that reinforces the outdated system of sanctions.

After the eighties, when a certain number of programs were elaborated in part by "independent producers", that is, filmmakers external to the channels, the crisis forced the channels to return to the initial system in which almost all the productions are elaborated internally leaving the production houses dismantled or inactive.

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Novels and comedies, main products

The national production is concentrated today in five major lines of a very commercial nature, namely: telenovelas, news / opinion, musicals, comic and unitary programs Each channel has a staff of actors, technicians and producers hired for a certain time, many of them in permanent rotation depending on the offer and competition of the system.

A high percentage of the channels' programming, approximately 50%, constitute "canned" imported mainly from North America. However, and in the lists of programs with the highest national audience, the first ten or twelve positions are generally occupied by national production.

The best medium for advertising investment

In Venezuelan television, except for the two state channels and the three that work by cable, advertising investment is the main income of television stations, a feature maintained since the late fifties. It is followed in importance by the income from the sale of its productions abroad. The most important sale of the programming occurs between the months of October and November when the channels carry out their pre-sales, that is, they offer their billboard planned for next year to advertisers, advertising agencies and media. The 1995 campaign raised a total of 33 billion bolivars (US$194 million) as an initial advertising investment, as revealed in its 135th edition of the communication, advertising and marketing magazine. Product.

Germán Pérez Nahim, executive vice president of Coral Pictures Corporation, important executive of Empresas IBC, when expressing his opinion on Venezuelan television, states: "Television in Venezuela has reached a very high level of ignition and penetration that makes it an ideal advertising medium. It is the most powerful vehicle at the information and advertising level (versus press and radio)."

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Indeed, surveys confirm that especially in the central region of the country, the population under 25 years of age is exposed to television for 10 hours a day (56%). However, a critical attitude towards the television phenomenon has been observed, reflected in multiple surveys, among which it is worth highlighting the Opinión Research de Venezuela C.A.y published by the newspaper El Nacional in its edition of August 8. It states: "33% of the population surveyed considers Venezuelan television to be violent; for 25% it is uneducational: 24.1% consider it vulgar; 19.4% too sexual. 12.3% think it is annoying and for 11.8% it is shy."

Influence of cable television

Despite these results and the predominance of television as the main advertising medium, the industry is currently affected by the serious deterioration of the quality of life and purchasing power of the population. The fight is close for the conquest of the target of higher income classified as A, B and C. In these sectors, in addition, the tuning of international channels has been disseminated through the widespread phenomenon of parabolic and cable channels: Omnivision/Multichannel (11 subscribed channels); Cablevisión (16 channels) and more recently Super Cable (50 subscribed channels). The latter advances in its installation of fiber optics so far only in Caracas, in areas of upper middle class (approx. 2% of the population) subtracting "quality" audience from the open signal channels.

Audience measurement companies are becoming increasingly important, incorporating the concept of "selective purchasing" into their results. AGB, an Italian company with a few months in the country, introduced from 1994 the Method of People Meter (electronic audience meters) and has just allied with the very traditional IBOPE in order to achieve the most accurate audience information through measurement, minute by minute, of the tuning indices of the programs, 24 hours a day. It is currently preparing its expansion plans to Colombia and Mexico.

With many years in the measurement of the rating in the country, CVI and Data.

It is also worth noting as part of the new technologies that are incorporated into the operation of national television, the fiber optic network planted throughout the country by the most important telephone company, CANTV even though its use for television purposes has not been approved. More recently, a US$20 million investment by Atlantic Telecom has been announced. Group, a multinational telephone company in partnership with Qual-comm Incorporated, for the incorporation of 1.3 million wireless telephone lines that will not only contribute to the optimization of teleconferencing, but will allow the development of the future interactive television as it exists in other countries.

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