26 January 2010

Venezuela: protests against suspension of RCTV leaves two dead

Following from "More blood in Hugo Chavez hands", El Universal reports that a second student died at the A & E department of Merida's university hospital, after protests against suspension of RCTV International erupted in cities across the country.

Paris-based Reporters Without Borders (RSF) stated that cable channels "were faced with the choice of having to broadcast the presidential ramblings or to disappear off the nation’s television screens." What RSF describes as "presidential ramblings" are locally known as "cadenas", which are described thus:
The “cadenas” go much further than simple official messages. They allow President Chávez an unlimited and unheralded right to speak without any time limit on almost the entire national broadcast system. Given that Hugo Chávez also presents his own Sunday programme “Aló Presidente”, is there any real need for this? Supposing there was, why should it be necessary to force the head of state’s speeches on so many channels and even worse under threat of penalties and even suspensions? Would not one public channel be sufficient to broadcast the “cadenas”? Use of these “cadenas” violates the right of independent media to decide on their own content. It prevents free circulation of pluralist news and information. It attacks the right of Venezuelans to choose their own programmes.

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