Venezuela’s president Hugo Chavez has declared that he will not renew the license of local web RCTV in March, making good the threats he made prior to his landslide re-election on Dec. 3.
Chavez said RCTV, in particular, has maintained a radical position against his regime. Just before the elections, Chavez accused local TV networks of fomenting conspiracies against his government and said he was ready to shut down any that tried to disrupt the electoral process.
At that time, the media networks led by Grupo Cisneros-owned Venevision and RCTV dismissed his threats as more saber-rattling on his part.
Chavez said RCTV’s license will not be renewed when it expires on March 27, but the net has argued that it still has a clear legal right to continue broadcasting under its current license for many years. RCTV prexy Marcel Granier said he intends to fight a legal battle in the Venezuelan courts and on the international stage.
Minister of Communication Willam Lara, has rejected their point of view. The Venezuelan government decides on broadcast licenses, which are granted through the National Telecommunications Commission under the authority of the Infrastructure Ministry.
RCTV, founded in 1953, is among the oldest private channels in Venezuela. It has been outpaced in the ratings by Venevision but continues to be among the leading media companies in Venezuela.
There is no word yet on whether Chavez will also strike down Venevision or smaller webs Televen and Globovision.
Chavez said RCTV was “at the service of coups against the people, against the nation, against national independence, against the dignity of the republic.”
RCTV is among a number of private TV and radio networks that in recent years have slammed Chavez’s government and aligned themselves with the opposition.
It was among many media outlets that supported a botched coup in 2002 and a general strike in 2003 that failed to unseat the left-wing president.