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Venezuelan web under fire

RCTV must register itself or else

HOLLYWOOD — Venezuela’s once powerful terrestrial web RCTV, banished to cable and satellite since July 16 by the government, could find itself pulled by midnight Wednesday if President Hugo Chavez has his way over a technicality.

Chavez’s government says RCTV Intl. must register as a national content producer to continue as a paybox, which RCTV is refusing to do.

Web is carried by regional satellite platform DirecTV and local cabler Planet, Inter and Net Uno, which face hefty fines if they continue to air the web past the deadline. They have appealed to the government to extend the deadline.

Caracas refused to renew 54-year-old RCTV’s terrestrial broadcasting license in May, accusing it of insubordination and violation of broadcast laws after its news reports criticized the government.

Pols say RCTV Intl. can stay on satellite and cable if it scraps its news programs, which still hit out at Chavez’s regime.

The web claims the latest government demand is just another step in its prosecution and a new form of censorship.

“Our news programs touch on local, regional and international news,” said RCTV lawyer Moirah Sanchez. “We’re sending another appeal to the government stating our arguments on why we should be considered an international network. If they succeed in censuring us, this could set a dangerous precedent for other international channels in the country.”

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