Our VoiceNews & Politics

Venezuela’s President Silences TV and Radio

Katie Bezrouch • Aug 08, 2009

Back in 2006 Hugo Chávez began to intimidate the private media industry in Venezuela. Last week, he started to follow through with his threats and implement closure tactics.

In ’06 the Venezuelan president said he would not renew the license for the Radio Caracas Television which he said expired in March 2007. The head of RCT – the county’s second largest media company – insisted it must be an error, as its license was not up for renewal in the near future. Then in 2007, “The same month that RCTV’s license expired, also expired the broadcasting licenses to Venevision, VTVChávez supporter station), among other stations, but the only one not renewed was the RCTV license, while the others got a renewal for over 2 years as a minimum.” On 7 June (after the closure), RCTV started broadcasting its newscast El Observador on Globovisión. (government owned and

Now Globovision is also susceptible to deconstruction on the airwaves, and in the physical sense.

“On August 3, 2009, a small group of militant members of a pro-Chávez party, the United for Venezuela Party (UPV), attacked the headquarters of Globovisión. They fired tear gas into the compound and clashed with police.”

The attack was highlighted in the global media, and next day the government arrested the attackers. Chávez made a statement condemning the attacks.

Venezuela’s telecommunications regulator launched four investigations into Globovisión and within the last week, the government has ordered the closure of 34 radio stations and plan to close 200 more. They insist that it is due to “violation of regulations” such as failing to renew a license. Diosdado Cabello, national regulator and public works minister, refuses to agree that the government is trying to limit freedom of expression or punish political opponents. Supporters of the president say it is necessary to “Wrestle back control of the country’s media from a small number of wealthy families”

But Chávez’s critics disagree. The Venezuelan Chamber of Radio Broadcasters described the closures as an “enormous violation”. This closures will undoubtedly decrease the ability of people who are concerned about the actions of the government to express their criticisms, and will clearly limit freedom of expression in Venezuela.

Chávez said previously that the revoked licenses could be given to broadcasters who share his socialist vision.

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