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Venezuela denies RCTV bid for pay stations

Government continues effort to keep opponent off-air

Venezuela has denied on technicalities Radio Caracas Television’s bid to launch two feevees, keeping the web, which frequently criticizes President Hugo Chavez, off the air.

Telco regulator Conatel cited incomplete and inaccurate documents in the case of new web RCTV Mundo and nixed RCTV Intl., forced off the air when it refused to air Chavez’s lengthy speeches, because its application to renew its license allegedly missed the deadline.

Local cable and satellite operators dropped RCTV Intl. in compliance with new government regulations that require all producers of national programming to register with Conatel and air mandatory government broadcasts.

RCTV Intl. had refused to do this at first but bowed to the demand under protest in order to recover its signal.

In late February, RCTV director general Marcel Granier unveiled plans to launch RCTV Mundo, which would take advantage of an exemption to the new regs for webs airing at least 70% imported programming. RCTV Mundo was going to feature telenovelas from Latin American alongside news and general entertainment.

This is another setback for Venezuela’s oldest broadcaster, which was forced off the terrestrial airwaves in 2007 for its alleged support of Chavez’s opponents and has been airing on cable and satellite platforms since then.

RCTV Intl. continues to broadcast to the Caribbean and over the Web, but revs are slim, threatening the jobs of 1,500 employees.

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