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Daily Archives: August 2, 2009

Sunday Times


Venezuelan government orders closure of 34 radio stations

The Venezuelan government has ordered the closure of 34 radio stations, the head of national telecommunications regulator Conatel said Friday, in the latest bid to rein in the country's media.
"They will have to cease transmission once they have received the order from Conatel," said Diosdado Cabello, who is also minister of public works in President Hugo Chavez's leftist government.
Cabello said the closures were due to the stations' failures to meet legal operating requirements, and warned that more closures may follow.
"These are the first 34 decisions that we have taken," he said.
Last month Conatel launched a survey of radio broadcasters, asking outfits to present documentation showing the validity of their licenses.
The country has an estimated 240 radio broadcasters that, along with the rest of the media, has come under pressure during Chavez's time in office.
Ahead of Friday's announcement Chavez came under fire from Human Rights Watch, a pressure group, for "censorship" and "abuse of power."
Chavez supporters argue that the measures limiting broadcasting rights for radio and television will lead to a significant "democratization" of the media, which has been controlled by a handful of owners.
The president said the government is developing eight new laws or reforms of existing laws that will have an impact on the media, including one that establishes a new set of "media crimes" punishable with prison sentences.
Human Rights Watch said the measures would "reduce the ability of government critics to voice their opinions and will seriously limit freedom of expression in Venezuela."