UPDATE 1-Venezuela govt takes stake in anti-Chavez TV

* Globovision one of few opposition voices on airwaves

* Chavez has increased pressure on the news network
(Adds Mezerhane, Globovision reaction)

CARACAS, Dec 7 (BestGrowthStock) – Venezuela’s government has taken
control of a fifth of the shares in Globovision, a sign of
mounting pressure on the opposition television network opposed
to President Hugo Chavez.

Chavez has in the past threatened to close Globovision,
which has a strong editorial line against his socialist
policies and is seen by its supporters as a bastion of
opposition to the many pro-government television stations.

In 2007, Chavez angered media freedoms groups and many of
his own supporters by refusing to renew the concession for
RCTV, the country’s favorite channel known for a diet of soaps
and news. The station appeared to favor a short-lived coup
against him in 2002.

Banking authorities began liquidating a company holding 20
percent of the privately held news network’s shares on Monday,
the government’s Official Gazette said. A government source
with knowledge of the situation said the shares would pass into
state control.

The shares previously belonged to Nelson Mezerhane, one of
Globovision’s principle investors, who fled Venezuela earlier
in the year to escape charges related to the failure of his
Banco Federal bank.

He said the aim of the latest move against Globovision was
to “silence the only television network that informs about your
attacks on democracy.”

It was not clear if the state planned to hold on to its
stake in Globovision or sell it. The 20 percent share is not
enough to affect editorial content at the station by naming new
board members, but would give public officials a presence at
shareholders meetings.

The broadcaster challenged the decision saying “no changes
have been made to the shares of Globovision,” in a statement
handed by its lawyers to the relevant authorities.

Globovision has already been weakened by government
scrutiny. Two of its main investors, Guillermo Zuloaga and
Mezerhane, have fled to the United States to avoid criminal
charges against them. Chavez last month accused Zuloaga of
plotting to have him killed, charges the businessman vehemently
denied. [ID:nN23125523]

Mezerhane said the government’s decision to close his bank
was motivated by politics and spite.

“It was confiscated for the benefit of your parasite
government and to satiate your hatred towards those who do not
share your dictatorial way of thinking and acting,” Mezerhane
said in an open letter to Chavez on Tuesday.

Chavez’s critics often accuse him of being a dictator in
the making, saying he has undermined democracy by lifting term
limits and pressuring opponents.

His supporters point out he has won numerous elections and
say private media outlets try to undermine his goal of
overturning years of injustice in the oil exporting nation.

The government has sold many of Mezerhane’s assets to pay
back the bank’s customers. The liquidation of Sindicato Avila,
the company holding the shares being assumed by the government,
will be carried out by Venezuela’s bank deposit guarantee
fund.
(Reporting by Eyanir Chinea and Frank Jack Daniel, editing by
Anthony Boadle)

UPDATE 1-Venezuela govt takes stake in anti-Chavez TV