Venezuela TV channel to go off air

Supreme court dismisses an attempt by an opposition-aligned channel to stay on air.

    Supporters of RCTV say that Chavez is attempting
    to silence his critics [AFP]
    The channel and its supporters argue Chavez is trying to silence criticism, while the government says it will be replaced by a public-service station and that freedom of expression is being respected.
     
    More challenges
     
    Luisa Estella Morales, the president of the supreme court, said in a statement that it is up to the national telecommunications commission to decide on the issuing, renewal and revocation of broadcast licences.
     
    The court left open the possibility that the channel could seek redress through other legal means, and other challenges are pending before the court.

    "It's clear that the RCTV case is still in dispute. We are going to continue the fight before, during and after May 27," Oswaldo Quintana, a lawyer for RCTV, said in a statement.
     

    Chavez's government wants to launch a public
    service channel to replace RCTV [AFP]

    Chavez announced in December that the government would not renew the station's licence, accusing it of supporting a failed 2002 coup against him.
     
    The government also accuses RCTV of violating broadcast laws, and Chavez says it produces "grotesque shows" that promote consumerism and violence.
     
    The government is creating a state-funded foundation to launch a new public service channel in place of RCTV.
     
    Chavez opponents, who plan a march in favour of RCTV on Saturday, argue that the public service channel will simply turn out pro-government propaganda. Government officials deny it.
     
    William Lara, the information minister, said on Thursday that Venezuelans have "many reasons to celebrate the signal's return to popular sovereignty".

    SOURCE: Agencies


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