28 May 2008

IAPA urges Venezuelan government to restore RCTV status as a broadcast channel


It also condemns Chávez administration’s plan to charge for official information


Miami (May 28, 2008)—The Inter American Press Association (IAPA) today called on the government of Venezuela to allow for the restoration of on-air broadcasting by Radio Caracas Televisión (RCTV).  The channel’s transmission equipment was seized after its shutdown on May 27 last year and this action would be “one way of beginning to re-establish freedom of the press in the country,” the organization declared.


IAPA President Earl Maucker, senior vice president and editor of the Fort Lauderdale, Florida, newspaper Sun-Sentinel, said, “The only way we will believe that press freedom is on its way up in Venezuela is if the government restores RCTV ‘s signal that was cut off a year ago in an action that was no less than the confiscation of every Venezuelan’s human right to information.”


In another development the IAPA expressed surprise at an announcement made on Monday by Information Minister Andrés Izarra that privately-owned news media would have to pay for any information they take from state-run TV network Venezolana de Televisión (VTV) which initiated unlawful operations on May 28 last year with RCTV-owned equipment. The move “violates every norm concerning the free flow of information,” the organization said.


Gonzalo Marroquín, chairman of the IAPA’s Committee on Freedom of the Press and Information, added, “This charge that will be made on privately-owned television stations for retransmission of official information broadcast by VTV is one more means of restricting access to information since this government limits access to official sources and the privately-owned media are forced to source from the state-owned channel.”


VTV, in a letter sent on May 26 to Globovisión, announced that starting June 1 privately-owned television and radio stations will pay 120 strong bolivars (approximately $56) per second for retransmission of its live or recorded broadcasts made between 5:00 a.m. and noon, material which was previously free.


Maucker and Marroquín, editor of the Guatemala City, Guatemala, newspaper Prensa Libre, stated, “We hope that the Venezuelan government will not pursue this anti-press freedom course that we have been revealing;  this is just one more indication of the official intent to isolate, subjugate and strangle the independent media.”


Globovisión and RCTV executives said they would take legal action to obstruct implementation of the planned charges.