Radio vs. The Chavez Administration

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chavezIt looks like there are going to be a lot of radio stations going off the air in Venezuela soon. A whopping 86 AM stations and 154 FM stations have failed to turn in required documents, which will lead to the “recovery of all those concessions by the state,” said Diosdado Cabello, who heads the Venezuelan telecommunications agency.

Like much of the news from Venezuela, it is hard to get a grip on the entirety of the situation. The government states that the stations are lacking the proper paperwork, something that could easily be seen to happen here in the U.S.  Hugo Chavez’s administration also states that a third of all Venezuelan stations are owned by a mere 27  families and that the administration intend to “democratize the media.”

On the other hand, there does seem to be an air of persecution to the whole scenario. Fabiola Sanchez at The Washington Post points out a disturbing parallel:

The move comes amid tensions generated by investigations against opposition-aligned television channel Globovision that could lead to its closure.

Cabello said the government has also opened investigations into a group of unidentified broadcasters for airing segments by two non-governmental organizations supporting private property rights.

Regulatory officials notified Globovision on Friday that it is targeted in the new probe, the fifth in six months, said Ana Cristina Nunez, a lawyer for the channel. She said the agency ordered the channel to stop showing the commercials, calling it “one more act of intimidation.”

All in all, this bears close watching. Generally, the areas that try to impede radio have reason to. Democratized media and information are potent things. The fact that Globovision is the lone opposition channel on the open airwaves since Radio Caracas Television was forced off the airwaves in 2007 when Chavez refused to renew its license makes this a very touchy subject.

All in all, I would always err on the side of transparency and freedom of information.  This current turn of events is one that bears watching . Besides, governmental saturation of the airwaves already exists:

  • 6 TV channels, including the Caracas-based international network Telesur
  • 2 national radio networks
  • 600 radio stations
  • 72 community TV stations,

I’d say that Chavez is getting his message across….

Photo courtesy of Daniel Zanini H., used under its Creative Commons license

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