Venezuela: Polar Buys Rights to World Cup and Broadcasts All Games for Free

Venezuela will enjoy World Cup broadcasts thanks to a deal between food and beverage giant Polar, and the nation's major television channels.

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Polar, one of Venezuela’s most iconic companies, has bought the distribution rights for the World Cup in 2018 (Mega Estatus).

Empresas Polar, the largest private food company remaining in Venezuela, has decided to bring some cheer to the Venezuelan people. The company has decided to offer its transmission of the World Cup to most of the television channels, in exchange for only advertising rights.

Polar, which has been one of the few companies to survive the onslaught of the Nicolás Maduro regime, and has also been the victim of constant expropriations by the dictatorship, bought the exclusive rights for the World Cup so that Venezuelans can enjoy it; in the context of Venezuela’s current economic crisis, it would be prohibitively expensive for media groups to make such an investment.

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Polar is giving away the World Cup free of charge through an exchange to all national television stations. Polar president Lorenzo Mendoza has even extended the transmission to the Chavista channels, which have often been responsible for discrediting the company and its management..

The beneficiaries include Venevisión, Meridiano TV, IVC, and the Chavista channels La Tele Tuya, and the state broadcaster TVES.

Polar, which knows how to play a strong hand, would not only be guaranteed an advertising presence in all national media; but it would also force the TVES channel to broadcast advertising for Polar, a company that has endured persecuted on the part of the dictatorship. Of course, the deal will only proceed if the official channel agrees to transmit the World Cup.

The strategy is also beneficial for television channels in that they would not have to spend large sums, or incur expenses for the design and production of advertising.

Empresas Polar generates at least 35,000 direct jobs and has 29 plants that produce 500 types of products under the name of 40 different brands; among them, the famous Polar beers and the traditional PAN flour used to make arepas, the most popular food in Venezuelan gastronomy.

In addition, it is one of the few companies that has been able to survive in the face of the Chavista socialist dictatorship, which has been characterized by onerous foreign exchange controls, price controls, and burdensome audits.

According to data from 2016, Polar generates 3.3% of the country’s non-oil production and its companies have paid the treasury USD $23 billion in taxes since 2003.

During the revolution, Polar has remained a target

The owner of Empresas Polar, Lorenzo Mendoza, has been constantly threatened with criminal prosecution by the state and even Nicolás Maduro has referred to him as “El Pelucón”, a word with negative connotations that denotes an association with the aristocracy.

On several occasions, Maduro has dedicated part of his television broadcasts to accuse the owner of Empresas Polar of a supposed “economic war”, and has described him as a “parasite, oligarch and pelucón”. However, the Chavez government has never shown any proof that Mendoza has violated the law.

Since the former president of Venezuela, Hugo Chávez Frías, came to power, he saw Polar as a tempting company to expropriate, and began a massive public relations barrage to besmirch the company, referring to the company and its owners with repeated insults, threats, and slanders.

In 2012, for example, the government ordered the immediate expropriation of 105 plots of land throughout the country for the construction of houses, among which were Polar Companies’ warehouses.

Chávez ordered the removal of Polar warehouses from the center of Barquisimeto, capital of Lara state, which included warehouses of the Pepsi Cola brand distribution system, in order to build housing projects.

Empresas Polar then called the measure “arbitrary, unnecessary and unjust” and asked the Supreme Court to annul it, alleging that the property in question pertained to a “strictly industrial and commercial” zone, where the residential use was prohibited.

The case of the expropriation of Polar property in Barquisimeto was the catalyst for presidential candidate Henri Falcón, who was also governor of Lara state at the time, to dissociate himself from the ruling party.

Falcón lost to Maduro in this weekend’s presidential elections, which were widely derided as fraudulent by the opposition and international community.

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