Venezuela telecom agency rejects company’s bid to launch cable channels critical of Chavez

Friday, March 5, 2010

Venezuela telecom agency rejects anti-Chavez TV

CARACAS, Venezuela — A company’s bid to launch two cable channels expected to be critical of President Hugo Chavez was rejected Friday, Venezuela’s state-run telecommunications agency announced.

The agency said Empresas 1BC failed to meet a deadline for registering one new channel, RCTV Internacional, and its petition to broadcast the second, RCTV Mundo, did not meet programming regulations.

Empresas 1BC was the owner of Radio Caracas Television, known as RCTV, which the telecommunications regulator ordered cable companies to drop in January, sparking widespread protests and clashes between supporters of Chavez and RCTV. The agency said RCTV defied new rules requiring local cable channels to carry mandatory government programming, including some of Chavez’s speeches.

Marcel Granier, president of Empresas 1BC, accused the agency on Friday of rejecting the company’s applications under orders from Chavez. He said the president “doesn’t want us to exist” because the new channels would have copied RCTV’s critical editorial line.

RCTV broadcast some of the country’s most critical commentary on Chavez’s government before officials refused to renew its on-air license in 2007, alleging it had supported a short-lived 2002 coup against the president. It continued to broadcast over cable to a smaller, paying audience before it was ordered dropped in January.

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