A Venezuelan television station has stopped airing a Colombian soap opera after government regulators demanded its removal saying the programme was offensive and denigrating to Venezuela as a country.
The soap opera Chepe Fortuna features an unscrupulous secretary named Venezuela who has a dog called Little Hugo, an apparent reference to Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez.
“What disrespect for Venezuela.” Mr Chavez said in a speech. “That soap is so horrible.”
The private TV channel Televen did not air the programme on Friday after regulators demanded the show be dropped from the line-up.
The character Venezuela, in contrast to her sister named Colombia, “is repeatedly characterised as associated with illegal activities, meddling and vulgarity”, Venezuela’s telecommunications regulatory agency Conatel said.
Mr Chavez noted the programme featured the dog named Little Hugo and said it is disrespectful to the country that the character Venezuela is portrayed as ill-mannered, overweight and “arrogant”.
The regulatory agency accused the soap opera of promoting “political intolerance” and notified Televen on Thursday that it should pull it off the air.
Televen, whose majority shareholder is Omar Camero Zamora, did not immediately respond to requests for comment. The channel maintains a neutral stance toward Mr Chavez’s socialist-oriented government.
The channel Venevision, which is owned by Gustavo Cisneros, and Televen both once took hardline stances against Mr Chavez’s government but in recent years have curbed their criticism.
The government in 2007 forced another anti-Chavez channel, RCTV, to halt broadcasts. That left Globovision as the sole stridently anti-Chavez channel left on the airwaves.