PRESS ADVISORY / BOOKING MEMOVerrrrry interesting. Time was when chavistas bragged that, unlike past governments, they had never shut down an oppo broadcaster. That's how JVR usually responded when challenged about press freedom. Remember that?
CONTACT: MEGAN MORRISSEY
MAY 22, 2007
TEL: 202-347-8081 X602 - MEDIA@VENINFO.ORG
VENEZUELA'S RCTV CAUSES CONTROVERSY ON PRESS FREEDOMS: EXPERTS AVAILABLE FOR COMMENT
Next Sunday, May 27th, marks the end of RCTV's right to broadcast on the public airwaves in Venezuela. The decision made by the National Telecommunications Commission (NTC) not to renew the broadcasting license of RCTV has caused the owner of the Caracas-based station, Marcel Granier, to take legal action. A member of the opposition camp opposed to President Chavez, Granier controls about 40% of the Venezuelan media through his corporation, 1Broadcasting Company. Though his influence has helped garner support for RCTV, the Venezuelan Supreme Court ruled late last week to uphold the non-renewal decision. RCTV will still be permitted to broadcast via satellite and cable TV as well as the internet, all of which are exempt from NTC guidelines and widely available to the Venezuelan public.
RCTV is Venezuela's oldest private broadcaster, but also the nation's most often cited for legal infractions. Previous offenses committed under other presidential administrations have led to repeated closures and fines for RCTV. Most recently, RCTV supported an illegal coup against President Chavez in 2002 by encouraging citizens through their programming to overthrow their elected president and promoted an oil industry strike later that year.
RCTV's non-renewal has been condemned by U.S.-based non-governmental organizations such as Reporters Without Borders and the Committee to Protect Journalists. The United Nations and the Organization of American States have been approached to make rulings on the issue, but neither of these institutions has passed a resolution condemning Venezuela for the non-renewal of RCTV's license. In fact, OAS Secretary General Jose Miguel Insulza has stated that the body "does not have the least intention to issue any condemnation against Venezuela." As the May 27th deadline approaches, a heightened debate is taking place about press freedoms in Venezuela and the role of the media in the political life of the country.
EXPERTS AVAILABLE FOR COMMENT ON VENEZUELA AND THE MEDIA:
DAN HELLINGER, PROFESSOR OF POLITICAL SCIENCE AT WEBSTER UNIVERSITY.
CHARLES HARDY, AUTHOR AND FORMER CATHOLIC PRIEST
STEVE ELLNER, PROFESSOR OF POLITICAL SCIENCE AT THE UNIVERSIDAD DEL ORIENTE IN VENEZUELA.
MARK WEISBROT, CO-DIRECTOR, CENTER FOR ECONOMIC AND POLICY RESEARCH (CEPR).
/TO REACH ANY OF THESE EXPERTS, PLEASE CONTACT:/
Venezuela Information Office
Now we find out that Chávez's decision to shut down RCTV permanently is legitimate because the station has such a sordid history of past infractions that even before Chávez was around, the government had to shut it down now and then. See how that works?
Here are a few questions we might all want to ask Ms. Morrissey.
- What can we infer about the independence of these experts from the fact that their PR is handled by the Venezuelan government's DC lobbying arm?
- Why precisely doesn't VIO disclose that it is a registered representative of the Venezuelan government in its "Press Advisories"?
- If the private media's position in 2002-2003 is the main reason for the shutdown, why don't they also shut down Televen and Venevisión?
- Isn't the phrase "illegal coup" redundant? Or is this to differentiate it from February 4th?
- Why should my tax bolivars be spent promoting the views of Mark Weisbrot?
- How does a "media analyst" whose job it is to provide PR cover to a government that silences dissenting voices in the media sleep at night? Chamomile? Valeriana? Hospital-grade demerol?
- And why should we hang the DJ anyway?!