Hugo Chavez's pirate TV

Hugo Chavez has been ripping off American television programming for the station he seized from its rightful owners. After shutting down Venezuela's most popular television network RCTV last May 27, Venezuelan dictator Hugo Chavez was quick to replace it with a slew of dull government programs, under a banner called TVes. Euphemizing "public" for "government" (like NPR and PBS), he and his minions branded the replacement shows 'public access TV' and claimed they were 'democratizing the airwaves,' no doubt in a move to sound good to gullible liberals hearing about this dictatorial move over in the U.S. But it isn't quite going according to plan.

For starters, what Chavez meant by 'democratizing' the airwaves is the about the same as what Marxists mean by the word 'liberating,'  -- theft of private property. Not only was Chavez stealing RCTV, he's now compounded his theft by stealing American television programming to replace it! As a thief -- err, Liberator -- he just can't stop!

News has broken in the Venezuelan press that a little station in Miami had its show ripped off and placed right into the Chavista-government programming as the replacement fare for RCTV's popular shows. Not only is the stolen American show non-indigenous to Venezuela (significant because Chavez makes a big deal about local content), the American program is being broadcast without a lick of permission or penny of royalty. The U.S. programmers have written to the Venezuelan ambassador in Washington to protest. Talk about pirate TV!

It all comes down to the fact that Chavez, despite his desperate desire to control the airwaves and hog the cameras to himself, cannot seem to make his government produce a good TV show on his own. His government owns at least three stations and all are rejected by viewers as abysmal fare. Fox News correspondent Adam Housley watched TVes and was stunned at just how excruciatingly boring Chavez's noncommercial TVes "socialist TV" government fare was. Jumping into Venezuela's prime airwaves without talent, without the personal interaction and trust that goes with a well-established television company that works together as RCTV really was, TVes' success as an enterprise is impossible.

The problems are clearly evident as the Nielsen ratings come in - RCTV commanded a 44% market share, and the TVes station that replaced it is losing about half its audience daily, and now holds the viewership of a mere 5.6% of the Venezuelan TV audience.

The humiliation of the numbers, especially compared to the popular RCTV's, may be at the root of why Chavez is now stealing American TV shows in a bid to get Venezuelans to watch his "public" TV programs, any which way he can.

Marxist that he is, Chavez apparently thought networks weren't complex assemblies of human capital, but commodities, like bushels of corn, and imagined one could be replaced easily by another.

With stolen TV shows, boring government programming, and absent viewers, Chavez seems to want another failure of socialism to showcase with the rest of the ruin and rubble he's made of the Venezuelan economy. On the broadcast front, he won't stop until he's made his once vibrant broadcasting nation a television wasteland.