23 May 2013

IAPA blasts order to take TV Channel off the air in Venezuela


Miami (May 23, 2013 )—The Inter American Press Association (IAPA) today described as arbitrary and a coercive act the order to local cable companies by the National Telecommunications Commission (Conatel) to suspend the signal of Venezuelan TV channel ATEL Televisión.

On Tuesday (May 21) Conatel, the agency in charge of applying the Law on Social Responsibility on Radio and Television, forced several companies providing cable television service to take the channel’s signal off the air. For some months ATEL Televisión and the 6to Poder Group have been holding conversations – so far not finalized – on the purchase of the channel’s shares, the two companies confirmed yesterday in separate announcements.

ATEL Televisión (facebook)  

Both ATEL Televisión and the 6to Poder Group – a media outlet critical of the Venezuelan government that on several occasions has been censored for its editorial stance – felt that the news about the possible agreement between the two companies was what led Conatel officials to put pressure on owners of cable companies, warning them in telephone calls to, “Either you take that channel off the air for me or I’ll shut you down at 7:00 a.m.”

“This is a clear act of coercion that seeks to affect the negotiations and send a warning message by the government, whose objective is to impose censorship,” declared Claudio Paolillo, Chairman of the IAPA’s Committee on Freedom of the Press and Information.

Paolillo, editor of the Montevideo, Uruguay, weekly Búsqueda, joined in the request by others for restoration of the signal and of ATEL Televisión programming, and agreed with them that the Conatel action is “a violation of the right to freedom of expression.”

The IAPA is a not-for-profit organization dedicated to the defense and promotion of freedom of the press and of expression in the Americas. It is made up of more than 1,300 publications from throughout the Western Hemisphere and is based in Miami, Florida. For more information please go to http://www.sipiapa.org.