Latin America & Caribbean

Venezuela seeks stake in anti-Chavez TV Globovision

Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez, July 3, 2010
Image caption Mr Chavez and Globovision have been in conflict for years

Venezuela's President Hugo Chavez has said his government is due to take control of a minority stake in the country's main anti-Chavez television channel, Globovision.

The government would then be entitled to appoint a member of the channel's board of directors, Mr Chavez said.

His government has been in conflict with Globovision for several years.

It accuses the broadcaster of supporting a failed coup attempt against Mr Chavez in 2002.

If the plan goes through, the Venezuelan government could be on the verge of becoming an important shareholder in a television company dedicated to criticising its policies.

Mr Chavez announced that in the past few weeks the government had taken over two companies - including a bank - owned by the co-founder of Globovision, Nelson Mezerhane.

Between them, those two companies own 25.8% of Globovision's shares, which Mr Chavez now wants to pass into the hands of the state.

The president claimed that such a minority stake in the television channel would entitle the government to appoint a member of the board of directors.

'Upper hand'

He immediately put forward the names of two staunchly pro-Chavez journalists as candidates.

If Mr Chavez is right, he may have just taken the upper hand in the government's long-running dispute with the broadcaster.

The reaction from Globovision was swift. "The editorial line of Globovision cannot be expropriated nor intervened in," the company said in a statement.

Globovision also denied that the government's control of Mr Mezerhane's bank gave it the right to appoint a board member.

However, Mr Chavez has made his point clear: he believes the government now has the right to a stake in Globovision.

It remains to be seen whether he will force the company to accept it.

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