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Censorship in Venezuela

Censorship in Venezuela is ranked at 114th out of 169 countries according to Reporters without Borders.

The Law on Social Responsibility of Radio and Television (Ley de Responsabilidad de Radio y Television in Spanish) has stimulated debates on freedom of expression and journalism in the country. It was enforced in 2003 by the government regulating body, CONATEL (National Commission of Radio and Television) and involves a wide range of television and radio censorship on violent and sexual content. However, the law contains other articles that have been subject to deep political controversy. Government opposition claims that the Venezuelan government is attempting to enlarge its role in the control of broadcasts content through the bill, and accuse it of being curbing international freedom of expression standards, generating a chilling effect on media and self-censorship. According to the law, television or radio stations could be penalized for showing news coverage of internal conflicts and wars before 20.00hrs, "making it necessary for them to present a sanitized version of the news during the day". Furthermore, "insult laws" as Human Rights Watch labels articles 115, 121 and 125 of the bill could result in open political censorship to freedom of speech. Blaming President Chavez or the Venezuelan government for the current bitter divisions in Venezuelan society, the bad economy, a sudden poverty growth and deaths in opposition demonstrations could result in an infraction of the law and therefore in strong penalizations (if the offense is "interpreted" or considered disrespectful towards legitimate institutions and authorities).

In May 2007, controversies on press freedom were further exacerbated when RCTV (Radio Caracas Television)'s terrestrial broadcast licence expired, with the government declining to renew it. An article by Reporters Without Borders stated that

"Reporters Without Borders condemns the decision of the Venezuela Supreme Court to rule an appeal by Radio Caracas Television (RCTV) against the loss of its license as "inadmissible". The appeal, lodged on 9 February 2007, was rejected on 18 May, putting a stop to any further debate. President Hugo Chavez said on 28 December 2006 that he would oppose renewal of the group's broadcast license, accusing the channel of having supported the 11 April 2002 coup attempt in which he was briefly removed from office. According to the government the license expired on 27 May 2007, a date contested by RCTV, which insists its license is valid until 2022. Without waiting for the 27 May or the Supreme Court's decision, Hugo Chavez on 11 May awarded RCTV's channel 2 frequency by decree to a new public service channel, Televisora Venezolana Social (TVes)".

This government action fueled student demonstrations and contentious forms of political demonstrations.

After the closure of the TV station on 2007, the station launched a new channel named RCTV International that was broadcast on cable/satellite TV. Following its move to cable, RCTV relaunched itself as RCTV International, in an attempt to escape the regulation of the Venezuelan media law. In mid-2009 the Venezuelan media regulator CONATEL declared that cable broadcasters would be subject to the new media law if 70% or more of their content and operations were domestic.Venezuelanalysis, 22 January 2010, Venezuela Applies Media Social Responsibility Law to Cable Channels In January 2010 CONATEL concluded that RCTV met that criterion (being more than 90% domestic according to CONATEL), and reclassified it as a domestic media source, and therefore subject to the requirements to broadcast state announcements, known as cadenas. Along with several other cable providers, RCTV refused to do so and was sanctioned with temporary closure. In order to resume broadcasting it will need to register as a domestic media provider and respect the Venezuelan media law. Other sanctioned channels include the American Network, America TV and TV Chile. TV Chile, an international channel of Chilean state television, had failed to respond to a January 14 deadline for clarifying the nature of its content.Santiago Times, 26 January 2010, TV Chile faces "temporary" ban for refusing to broadcast Chavez speech Cable network providers have been encouraged by the Venezuelan government to remove those channels that are found to be in violation of existing media regulations.Venezuelanalysis, 25 January 2010, Venezuela Sanctions Cable Television Channels for Failure to Comply with Media Law

See also

Freedom of speech by country

May 2007 RCTV protests

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This article is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License. It uses material from the Wikipedia article Censorship in Venezuela

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