1953 to 1960
RCTV's logo from 1953 to 1979
Radio Caracas Televisión, C.A. was established on 18 August 1953 by the Corporación Radiofónica de Venezuela (more commonly known as Coraven, a subsidiary of the Grupo Phelps and RCA), whose mission was that of launching a television network. In the month of September, Radio Caracas Televisión (RCTV) began test broadcasts on channel seven using the call sign YVKS-TV, and on 15 November, the network was officially inaugurated at 7:30 pm. RCTV was the third television network to begin operations in Venezuela after Televisora Nacional and Televisa, seen on channels five and four, respectively, and the second commercial network after Televisa.
RCTV Headquarters in Caracas
On 8 October, during RCTV's testing phase, the inaugural game of the XIV World Cup of Baseball was broadcast. This game matched Cuba and Venezuela and took place at the recently opened stadium of the Ciudad Universitaria de Caracas.
The official inauguration of RCTV took place at its studios located between the corners of Bárcenas and Río in Quinta Crespo, and had the presence of the Minister of Communications, Colonel Félix Román Moreno, the proprietors of the network, and a small group of special guests. In charge of the inauguration was William H. Phelps, Jr., the founding president of the company, and his wife, Kathy Phelps.
The first program that was aired by the newly inaugurated network was the musical Fiesta, which hosted by Ramírez Cabrera and sponsored by Cerveza Caracas. Afterwards, RCTV aired a program titled El Farol, which was then followed by a program sponsored by Cigarrillos Alas that was directed by Peggy Walker which featured Alfredo Sadel (who had just returned from New York City in time for RCTV's inauguration).
The first voice that identified the network was that of Héctor Myerston.
The following day, RCTV began transmitting its regular programming on channel seven, presenting programs such as 'El Observador Creole', Cuento Musical Venezolano, Tontín y Tontona, the police adventures of Roy Martin, and the adventures of Kid Carson, to name a few. El Observador Creole was Venezuela's first regular newscast, presented by the Creole Petroleum Corporation (a subsidiary of Standard Oil of New Jersey). The face and voice of Francisco Amado Pernía animated the newscasts from Monday to Saturday and Sunday the newscast had Cristóbal Rodríquez Pantoja as presenter. El Observador Creole remained on the air for almost twenty years, being replaced by El Observador Venezolano, and then relaunched as El Observador.
RCTV's first board of directors included José Marcano Coello, Peter Bottome, Armando Enrique Guía,
Guillermo Tucker Arismendi, William H. Phelps, Jr., and Antonio Ortol.
In 1954, Anecdotario appeared. This was the first cultural program that theatrically represented great works of literature. It was directed by Margarita Gelabert and César Henríquez. Other cultural programs similar to Anecdotario included Kaleidoscopio, Teatro del Lunes, Gran Teatro, Ciclorama, Cuentos del Camino, and Candilejas.
Later that year, RCTV debuted their first telenovela, Camay, which was on at 9:00 pm. As a result of Camay's popularity, RCTV began producing more telenovelas, which became an important part of the network's programming throughout the years. In the 1950s, telenovelas contained between 20 and 25 episodes, with each episode lasting 15 minutes (about three minuted were allocated to advertisements), and were televised live.
In December 1954, RCTV began broadcasting simultaneously on channels two and seven.
In early 1955, RCTV began to transmit exclusively to Caracas, on channel two, from a new transmitting station located in the neighborhood of La Colina. In the month of July, RCTV began its regular service to the interior of the country. A repeater antenna was installed in Altamira, south of Lake Valencia, allowing RCTV to reach, by way of channel seven, Valencia, Maracay, and surrounding towns. Later, RCTV put into service their repeater antenna in Curimagua, Falcón State, so that their signal could reach the entire state and the Netherlands Antilles on channel 10. This station was one of the most modern stations in the moment of its installation.
Also in 1955, the morning show that projected Renny Ottolina to national fame made its national premiere. Lo de Hoy came on at 7:30 a.m. and lasted until 9:00 a.m. It was an adaptation of NBC's Today Show, and as a result of the record audience that it obtained, the show was extended to two hours. In 1958, Ottolina left Lo de Hoy, and went on to host his very own variety show, El Show de Renny.
In March 1956, the operations of the repeater station of Isla de Toas commenced, by which, on channel two, RCTV's signal arrived in Zulia State. In September 1956, RCTV installed an antenna in Pariata, to serve what is now Vargas State.
In 1957, RCTV expanded their coverage to the national level, offering an uninterrupted signal of high quality.
In January 1957, RCTV improved their installations at Curimagua and were able to offer an uninterrupted and higher quality signal to the Falcon State and the Netherlands Antilles. The network also began service to the state of Lara by way of channel three, transmitting from Mount Manzano in Barquisimeto. On 31 October 1957, RCTV began its first service from Puerto La Cruz to cover the northeastern region of Venezuela on channel three.
In 1958, after the fall of dictator Marcos Pérez Jiménez on 23 January of that year, RCTV began airing La Voz de la Revolución, the first political talk show to air in Venezuela.
Tito Martinez Del Box, a producer from Argentina, created the comedy series La Gran Cruzada del Buen Humor, later known as Radio Rochela. In 2001, Radio Rochela made the Guinness World Records for being on the air for over five decades uninterrupted (it was seen every Monday at 8:00 pm).
By the end of the 1950s, there existed five television channels in Venezuela: the state channel Televisora Nacional, and private networks Televisa, Radio Caracas Televisión, Televisa del Zulia, and Ondas del Lago Televisión.
1960 to 1970
By the 1960s, the American television network, NBC, had purchased a twenty percent stake in RCTV. Although today, NBC no longer owns any part of RCTV, RCTV is affiliated with Telemundo, NBC's Spanish-language network.
In 1961, RCTV, with the help of their radio counterpart, began their first experiments with stereo sound during the broadcast of a variety show.
On 17 September 1961, RCTV put into use their first videotape system, a technology which permitted the consolidation of recordings of sounds and images.
Also in 1961, a major fire affected eighty percent of the operating facilities of the network. As a result of this event, RCTV went on the air with an emergency programming.
Later in 1961, the network offered their first service to the city of Puerto Cabello from an antenna located at the naval base in that city.
In 1962, RCTV, in a resolve to demonstrating a technological advancement for the network, began producing its programs electronically through a locally manufactured editing machine for camera footage.
Also in 1962, RCTV began its first service to the state of Táchira and the Norte de Santander Department in Colombia from an antenna located in the high barren plain of El Zumbador.
On 24 August 1963, RCTV was given the exclusive rights to broadcast the inauguration of the General Rafael Urdaneta Bridge over Lake Maracaibo. On this day, RCTV launched their first transmission via microwave transmitters from the antennas in Curimagua and Maracaibo. The use of the electronic pointer was incorporated.
On every 17 December between the years 1963 and 1969, RCTV presented, and reran by popular demand, a made-for-TV movie that re-created the death of Simón Bolívar. Written by Alfredo Cortina, starred by the Peruvian actor Luis Muñoz Lecaro (Simón Bolívar), directed by José Antonio Ferrara, and presented by Ruben Darío Villasmil, El Ocaso de un Sol made its mark by being one of the first creations by RCTV recorded on videotape.
In 1964, RCTV began using their new transmitters located in the mountains southeast of Puerto la Cruz and Barcelona to offer a higher quality signal by way of channel three to Isla Margarita, Cumaná, Barcelona, Puerto La Cruz, and surrounding areas in the states of Sucre and Anzoátegui. Later, RCTV inaugurated the transmitters on Pico Terepaima, to the south of Barquisimeto, to serve with quality the states of Lara, Yaracuy, and Portuguesa by way of channel three, and the one in Maracaibo, covering with better image and sound the state Zulia. In November, from Pico Zamuro, Trujillo, RCTV began transmitting its signal to the towns of Trujillo, Valera,
Biscucuy, Boconó, Guanare, and their surrounding areas.
In the 1960s, the number of episodes contained in each telenovela increased, with each one episode lasting between 30 and 60 minutes long, also telenovelas were no longer made live as a result of the arrival of the videotape technologies. By 1964, telenovelas with sole disappeared with the release of La Novela del Hogar (which came on at 2:00 pm), La Novela de Pasión (which came on at 2:25 pm), and La Novela Romantica (which came on at 2:55 pm). La Tirana (1967, created by Manuel Muñoz Rico), was the first telenovela to be aired on Saturdays.
On 16 May 1965, RCTV placed into service their transmitters at the Mérida cable car. Thanks to this equipment, RCTV's signal covered the entire Andean region of Venezuela.
By 1967, there were seven television networks on the air in Venezuela. They included Radio Caracas Televisión, Venevisión, Cadena Venezolana de Televisión (CVTV), Canal 11 Televisión, Televisora Nacional in Caracas, Teletrece in Valencia, and Canal 11 in Maracaibo. Because of the exaggerated number of channels, both for the audience and the national publicity market, this number, at the beginning of the 1970s, was reduced to four (two private and two official).
In 1968, RCTV launched Sabado Espectacular, a variety show created and hosted by Amador Bendayan. The show later moved to Venevision, where it was renamed Sabado Sensacional and is currently known as Super Sabado Sensacional hosted by Leonardo Villalobos.
On 17 July 1969, RCTV brought to their viewers the first international broadcast: a news conference with the Apollo 11 American astronauts that were traveling to the moon the next day. On 20 July, RCTV broadcast live and direct the arrival of these astronauts to the moon. Armando Enrique Guía, Hernán Pérez Belisario, and Gustavo Rada were in charge of the transmission which counted a satellital antenna, a channel of microwave transmitters and a submarine cable.
The 600-episode telenovela El Derecho de Nacer, created by Félix B. Caignet and starring among others Raúl Amundaray, Conchita Obach and Amalia Pérez Díaz, which debuted in 1966, would help define the network's drama programming in the latter half of the decade.
1970 to 1980
RCTV's logo from 1979 to 1996
In 1970, RCTV began using the first chromatic signals during the broadcast of the World Cup in Mexico (the same World Cup where Venezuelans were able to see Pelé make his one thousandth goal). Unfortunately, by pressure from the government, the network was obligated to use electronic filters.
On 16 November 1971, Producciones Cinematográficas Paramaconi, C.A., a company affiliated with RCTV that specializes in cinematography, was established.
On 30 August 1973, RCTV inaugurated a transmitting station in Punta de Mulatos, between La Guaira and Macuto, to offer a better signal in the region. It was the same year that RCTV launched the country's first major kids' program, Popy (featuring Diony Lopez in the title role of a clown), which ran for 13 seasons (1973 to 1986), a program that would set the standard for children's programming.
On 23 June 1974, RCTV began service to Ciudad Bolívar on channel three, and in July to Puerto Ordaz, on channel two.
In 1974, the miniseries Doña Bárbara began airing. In just 48 episodes of two hours, José Ignacio Cabrujas brought to television the classic novel authored by Rómulo Gallegos in 1929 and later creating into a trilogy with Canaima and Cantaclaro. Under the direction of the Argentine producer Juan Lamata and with César Bolívar in charge of photography, eighty percent of this production was filmed outdoors (mainly in the llanos of the Apure State). Although it was filmed in color (RCTV was the second network to begin broadcasting in color after VTV in 1971 produced what would be the republic's first ever color TV program), it was broadcast in black and white. This was the first Venezuelan miniseries that was later broadcast to countries in Europe and the first program dubbed into another language as well as its first ever color production.
In the mid-1970s, RCTV created the
2 de Oro award as an incentive for the network's artists and talents. The most recent 2 de Oro was held on 15 April 2007. The 2 de Oro 2004 was held 7 November 2004, and the 2 de Oro 2003 was held on 7 November 2003 (there was no 2 de Oro awards in 2005 and 2006). Other (defunct) award shows that aired on RCTV were the Ronda and Meridiano.
In 1975, RCTV began selling broadcasting rights to some of its programs to television companies overseas, with some of them being translated and dubbed into more than 15 languages and transmitted in more than 40 countries. The three hundred episode telenovela, La Usurpadora, was RCTV's first telenovela broadcast abroad.
Also in 1975, RCTV launched Alerta, a controversial current affairs program that took a look into various social situations in Venezuela. Shortly after Luis Herrera Campins assumed the presidency in 1979, Alerta was taken off the air as a result of a highly controversial report that was conducted on the children's mental hospital located in Catia La Mar. Alerta, as well as Primer Plano and A Puerta Cerrada (the latter to a lesser extent), would make a comeback, get cancelled, make another comeback, and get cancelled again before making another comeback. The latest reincarnation of Alerta began airing on 27 October 2006 and is hosted by Alexandra Belandia. Alerta was originally hosted by Eladio Larez, the future president of RCTV.
On 31 March 1976, RCTV's transmissions were suspended for 72 hours by the first government of Carlos Andrés Pérez for issuing "false and tendacious news", in regard to the kidnapping of the American businessman
William Niehous, then president of Owens-Illinois Venezuela. This was RCTV's first shut down by the government.
In 1977, the "cultural telenovela" appeared with La Hija de Juana Crespo and then La Señora de Cárdenas, with both of them captivating their audience with stories that went from the wish of over coming economically and professionally, to infidelity and turbulent marriages.
On 5 January 1978, there was another major fire at RCTV's studios. Fortunately, this fire was nowhere near as damaging as the fire of 1961. It was the very same year that it began test color broadcasts for special events only.
On 15 November 1978, the Fundación Academia de Ciencias y Artes del Cine y Televisión (the Academic Foundation of Sciences and Arts of Film and Television) was founded by William H. Phelps. This academy allowed RCTV to give the opportunity to prepare and train their artists and workers.
The government of Luis Herrera Campins (1979), by decree, began permitting the use of color in television and the American color system, NTSC-M, was adopted. On 1 December 1979, RCTV began broadcasting in color. Unfortunately, this decree allowed only cultural productions to transmit under this format. Estefanía was RCTV's first production broadcast in color. And weeks after the official transition to color, RCTV, together with Venevision, became the official broadcasters of that year's OTI Festival, held at the Theater Hall of the Military Academy of Venezuela, in full color.
1980 to 1990
RCTV's secondary logo from 1984 to 1987
In 1980, RCTV began airing the miniseries Gómez I and Gómez II. Although they were both a phenomenon, creator José Ignacio Cabrujas and RCTV were sued for 15 million bolívares (about 13 billion bolívares just before 2008, which converts to 13 million bolívares fuertes) because of its historical errors and "injuring the moral patrimony of the descendants and family of General Gómez".
Also in 1980, RCTV was closed for a 36 hours by the government of Luis Herrera Campins for airing "sensationalist narrations", "risqué pictures", and "news stories lacking facts".
Television networks in Venezuela, whom were already prepared for the change and had occasionally transmitted in this format, made the complete switch-over to color on June 1, 1980.
In 1981, RCTV was closed for 24 hours (by the government of Luis Herrera Campins) for airing "a segment of pornographic film".
According to an article published in the Caracas daily newspaper, El Nacional, dated 27 September 1981, RCTV was admonished by the national government for having announced prematurely the death of ex-president Rómulo Betancourt. The Minister of Communications, Vinicio Carrera, by instructions of President Luis Herrera Campins, was in charge of admonishing RCTV "very severely".
RCTV's international distributor logo from 2005 to present
In 1982, Coral International was created to sell and distribute RCTV's programs overseas. In 2005, Coral International changed its name to RCTV International to honor its parent company. The same year RCTV became a pioneer station to use the Scanimate system of computer graphics for its on-air presentation and program graphics.
The government of Luis Herrera Campins, by way of decrees 849 (published in the Official Gazette number 32,116 dated 21 November 1980) and 996 (published in the Official Gazette number 32,192 dated 20 March 1981) prohibited, for reasons of public health, television and radio stations to advertise, directly or indirectly, the consumption of alcoholic beverages, cigarettes, and other tobacco products.
In 1984, RCTV was admonished for ridiculing "in a humiliating way" President Luis Herrera Campins and his wife.
It was in 1986 that the private television networks in Venezuela began using satellite dishes to "download" foreign television signals for their use.
1986 was also the year of Cristal, a telenovela of 246 episodes which broke audience records both inside and outside of Venezuela. In Spain, Cristal was aired since 1988 to 1993 on seven different time periods. Later that year, RCTV launched another major production, called La Dama de Rosa, which in 1991 was seen by seven million people in Spain alone. As a result, RCTV made a record US$12 million from the sales of their telenovelas overseas. Both soaps, based on works by Rómulo Gallegos, formed part of a series of TV adaptations from the works of the Venezuelan writer and former President.
Also in 1986, Expedición, the first ecological and conservationist series produced in Venezuela began airing, which converted RCTV into a pioneering network in this genre. This series was exported to other countries, particularly the United States, Spain, and Japan. Expedición aired until 1998 and contained a total of 48 episodes.
On 27 May 1987, RCTV's broadcast license was renewed for 20 years by the government of Jaime Lusinchi.
On 13 August 1988, William H. Phelps, Jr., RCTV's founder and first president died at age 85. He had served as RCTV's president for 34 years, retiring from the network only a year before his death.
In 1989, RCTV was closed for 24 hours by the second government of Carlos Andrés Pérez for airing advertisements for cigarettes in defiance of the 1980 presidential decrees.
1990 to 2000
RCTV's logo from October 1996 to 16 April 2007
During the first years of the 1990s, RCTV developed a series of made-for-TV-movies. Some were based on real life events. Among the most highlighted were La Madamme (with Mimí Lazo), Cuerpos Clandestinos (with María Conchita Alonso), Volver a Ti (with Ruddy Rodríguez), and Buen Corazón (with Coraima Torres), among many others.
In 1990, RCTV became the second TV network in Venezuela to use computer-generated imagery for its on-air idents.
On 1 August 1991, the Venezuelan government forced RCTV not to air a sketch in Radio Rochela, called "La Escuelita", due to its controversial nature. This decision was ratified by the Supreme Court.
By 1992, RCTV had lost much of its audience to its main rival, Venevisión, but after the launch of Por Estas Calles, RCTV, in terms of viewer ratings, had slowly regained its lead as the nation's no.1 station. This resulted in Venevisión to cancel its contract with Marte TV (Channel 12; now La Tele), and as a result Marte TV nearly entered bankruptcy.
Also in 1992, Kassandra based on a gipsy love theme, was the first Venezuelan telenovela that arrived in the Japanese market. This production was translated in eighty languages and was placed into the Guinness Book of World Records for being the most sold telenovela series in history. The protagonists Coraima Torres and Osvaldo Rios were extremely successful in Italy, Russia, former Eastern Bloc nations, the republics of the former Yugoslavia, as well as the Middle East, south and east Asia.
In 1993, for the first time, RCTV combined cartoons with real actors in one of their productions. Created by
Mariela Romero, the telenovela Dulce Ilusión was converted into a modern version of Cinderella.
In 1994 and 1995, with the objective to obtain the best sharpness and resolution of colors, RCTV inaugurated the first studio that utilized video component technology. Also in 1996, RCTV switched from using an analog signal to a digital signal, the first for a Venezuelan TV station.
In 1997, RCTV was the first network in Latin America that automated their informative services (from the making of its contents until its airing), in which they adopted the format DVC Pro.
In 1999, RCTV purchased the Digital Betacam System, which allowed the use of cinematographic techniques in the illumination of outdoor shots.
On 15 November 1999, RCTV had been on the air for a total of 16,000 days.
On 4 December 1999, the testing phase began for Vale TV (Valores Educativos Televisión), a non-profit private enterprise co-owned by the Archdiocese of Caracas and the three leading private television networks in Venezuela (RCTV, Venevisión, and Televen).
RCTV's logo from 16 April 2007 to 16 July 2007
On 18 July 2005, the Centro Nacional de Noticias (National Center for News), was inaugurated. From here, RCTV broadcasts El Observador (all three daily emissions), La Entrevista, and other special programs of information and opinion. The president of Empresas 1BC and general director of RCTV, Marcel Granier, and the president of RCTV, Eladio Larez, were present at its inauguration. It is located in Quinta Crespo, a neighborhood in Caracas downtown where Radio Caracas Televisión's other studios can be found.
On 17 June 2006, the Autonomous Service of Intellectual Property (SAPI), issued an administrative resolution in which it cancelled the use of the trademark "Radio Caracas Televisión", arguing that RCTV has not used this name for at least three consecutive years (they preferred to identify themselves as just RCTV) and thus should no longer have the right to it. This resolution came about when RCTV was being sued by the cable channel, Caracas TV, for having trademarked the name Caracas TV three months after Caracas TV went on the air (RCTV was also known as Radio Caracas TV, and claimed that there was too much of a similarity). Caracas TV would later be relaunched as
Canal de Noticias, a 24-hour cable news network.
On 15 December 2006, Tu Tienda RCTV, a gift shop which sells various products containing the logo of RCTV, ¿Quién Quiere Ser Millonario? (the local version of Who Wants to Be a Millionaire?), and the telenovela
Te Tengo en Salsa, opened in the Recordland at the Sambil Mall in Caracas.
In 2006, RCTV was sued for broadcasting advertisements of phone services which used images with "high sexual content" during late night programming. The Supreme Court ordered the station to stop showing content of that type, and described the advertisemements as morally hazardous content with persuasive messages.