- Title: VENEZUELA: Venezuela shuts down first of 34 radio stations.
- Date: 4th August 2009
- Summary: CARACAS, VENEZUELA (FILE) (REUTERS) GENERAL VIEW OF CARACAS VARIOUS OF CONATEL BUILDING MEDIA
- Embargoed: 19th August 2009 13:00
- Topics: Arts / Culture / Entertainment / Showbiz,Domestic Politics
- Reuters ID: LVAE8ZFGQKTK2XCRMXQQF6AVH727
- Story Text: The Venezuelan government closes the first of 34 radio stations slated to be shut down for, according to the government, failing to comply with regulations. Station employees protest and say they will carry on transmitting.
The first of 34 radio stations ordered shut by the Venezuelan government went off the air on Saturday (August 01).
Government broadcasting watchdog Conatel delivered an order to CNB radio in Caracas before dawn, ordering its stations to stop transmitting by 8 a.m., an employee of the radio network told Globovision TV.
Diosdado Cabello, the public works minister who also oversees Conatel, said on Friday (July 31) that 34 radio stations would be ordered closed because they failed to comply with regulations.
He said some of the stations did not have their broadcasting licenses renewed and others transferred them illegally to new owners.
"We are satisfied they are the first 34 stations when we - the national government, the revolutionary government - made the decision to democratise the radio spectrum, to end the media estate. What we are saying seriously is that we are not playing. This is a problem that has to be resolved and this is the best moment to do it," Cabello said.
But critics said the crackdown was arbitrary and the owners were not given the right to a proper defense.
Chavez and his supporters say they are waging a "media war" against private news companies and have denounced in recent days what they say is a renewed offensive by privately owned domestic and international media to discredit Venezuela.
At CNB's headquarters in downtown Caracas on Saturday (August 1), hundreds of surprised CNB employees and government critics gathered to protest the shutdown.
"We don't expect anything from this measure. It is an illegal measure, it is a measure that attacks liberty. It is not a legal measure, but a political measure and we are here on fighting feet. We are going to continue arriving with our voices to the homes of each Venezuela that have followed CNB all these years," said CNB Vice-President of Public Relations BJJ Bartolomeo.
Another 120 radio stations were being investigated for administrative irregularities and the radio frequency of stations being shut down would be transferred to new community broadcasters, he said.
As part of his drive to remake Venezuela as a socialist country, Chavez has vastly expanded the number of publicly owned television and radio stations since he took office in 1999. Some are directly owned or financed by the government, while others are operated by cooperatives and community groups.
In 2007 Chavez did not renew the license for a widely watched private TV station, RCTV, that was a persistent critic of the government.
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