13 February 2008

Tirade against TV channel in Venezuela raises IAPA concern


Tirade against TV channel in Venezuela raises IAPA concern


MIAMI, Florida (February 14, 2008)—The Inter American Press Association today expressed concern at a government diatribe in Venezuela against privately-owned television channel Globovisión and warned that it could be an indication that there are plans to clamp down on the channel.


Gonzalo Marroquín, chairman of the IAPA’s Committee on Freedom of the Press and Information, declared, “Our concern stems from the fact that we are currently detecting government stances against Globovisión similar to the ones that preceded the shutdown of Venezuela’s other independent television network, RCTV, in May last year.” He also recalled that in the recent past there have been a large number of anti-media actions and legislation was introduced that would curtail freedom of the press and the right to information.


Marroquín, editor of the Guatemala City, Guatemala, newspaper Prensa Libre, added that “everyone realized at that time that non-renewal of the broadcast license was just an excuse to close down a widely-followed news outlet critical of the government.” He said that Globovisión plays a major role in Venezuela democracy and “it would be disastrous for the people and their right to know if it were to cease operations.”


Globovisión alerted the IAPA to the latest developments, claiming that government officials were involved in speaking out against its editorial policies, in what they perceive as clear harassment and a loss of its freedom to report, criticize and express opinions.


Globovisión cited evidence of repeated public statements by both to the executive and legislatives branches of government discrediting its work and added that, among other actions, the Attorney General’s Office had been asked to undertake an investigation that could jeopardize its ability to continue broadcasting.


 The IAPA is due to hold its Midyear Meeting in the Venezuelan capital, Caracas, March 28-30 where it will look at the state of press freedom there and elsewhere in the Western Hemisphere. Venezuela’s President Hugo Chávez has been invited to formally open the meeting’s sessions.