Venezuela A cable-television channel critical of President Hugo Chavez was yanked from the air early Sunday for defying new government regulations requiring it to televise some of the socialist leader’s speeches.
Venezuelan cable and satellite TV providers stopped transmitting Radio Caracas Television Internacional, an anti-Chavez channel known as RCTV, after it did not show the president’s speech Saturday to a rally of supporters.
While five other channels were also dropped from cable, some say the government took broader action to disguise its mission to shut down a popular, critical media outlet ahead of congressional elections and amid discontent over inflation, crime and electricity shortages.
Venezuelan pollster and analyst Luis Vicente Leon said the message is clear: “The government is willing to do everything to destroy its adversaries.”
RCTV already was forced to switch to cable in 2007 after the government refused to renew its license for regular airwaves. Chavez accused the station then of plotting against him and supporting a failed 2002 coup.
Under the new rules, two dozen local cable channels, including RCTV, must carry government programming when officials deem it necessary, just as channels on the open airwaves already do. Chavez regularly uses that legal power to order broadcast TV and radio stations to carry his marathon speeches, which can last up to seven hours.