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Venezuela: Bloggers Mobilize For and Against the End of Transmission of Radio Caracas Television.

The television channel Radio Caracas Television (RCTV) has enjoyed the ability to transmit over an open television frequency for the past 53 years. It is the oldest television channel in the country, and its license for the use of the frequency will expire. The Venezuelan government decided not to renew the license, just as we have written in the past.

The debate in the country continues to be the same: on one side the opposition to the Chavez government considers that this has to do with political retaliation in punishment for the channel's role of political opposition, and on the other hand, the Chavistas support the measure because it can now “liberate” the open television signal from a channel that has destabilized the country through its propaganda.

There is very little gray area in a situation so polarzied, but the best thing is to read both sides.

The Venezuelan blog directory To2blogs.com opened a special section about RCTV and is collecting all of the posts that the Venezuelan bloggers are writing about the subject. This tells us about the importance of this governmental action in the morale of the Venezuelan blogosphere, because in itself, the process is another opportunity for political confrontation, as we have become accustomed to. Blogs have been created especially about the topic, those that are in favor the measure (RCTV from the inside) or against it (I am with RCTV).

Up until now, there are more than 2,000 articles just in that site alone. There is a wealth of opinions about this conflict.

A channel without signal is a closed channel?

Within the political correctness language, “the non-renewal of the channel's license” means that it cannot transmit over open signal, which will affect the channel's economic standing and also the viewers will not be able to see it. The channel will not close, but it is restricted to transmit over cable, but because there is also no Digital TV technology in Venezuela, it ends this discussion.

Freedom of speech, public or private

The internal debates within each blog, such as the one at Slave to the PC [ES] with more than 200 comments, center upon whether the measure against the private channel represents a violation of freedom of speech.

Kira Kariakin comments:

Para mí la cuestión radica en los principios que mueven una sociedad que se precie de democrática y en esos principios están incluidos no solo la libertad de expresión, sino el derecho a la disensión, al juicio justo, a la defensa, a la protesta, al trabajo, a la propiedad privada, entre tantos otros que con este retiro de la concesión de la señal para RCTV se violentan. Luego de sentado un precedente como éste no habrá marcha atrás en cuanto a la libertad de expresión en los medios.

For me, the question is based on the principles of a society that enjoys democracy, and within those principles they also include not only freedom of speech, but also the right to dissent, to a fair trial, to a defense, to protest, to work, to private property, among others, which are some of the ones that are threatened with the withdrawal of RCTV's license. After a precedent is set like this there is no turning back in regards to the media's freedom of speech.

Iria at Resteados [ES] criticizes the quality of the channel and thinks that the problem of freedom of speech goes beyond whether or not it stays on the air:

RCTV sigue siendo hoy, el canal que hace 12 años dejé de ver por razones éticas y estéticas. No ha cambiado en estos meses desde que Chávez le dictó la sentencia de cierre.

Así que no tengo más que repetir: “Yo no estoy con RCTV”.

RCTV continues to be the channel that I stopped watching 12 years ago for ethical and aesthetic reasons. It has not changed during the months that Chavez gave its sentence of closing.

So, I have nothing else but to repeat, “I am not with RCTV”

Lubrio asks at El Espacio de Lubrio [ES] whether opinions and protests are really restricted in Venezuela, and provides an example of the opposition march on May 19, in which there was not a single repressive event.

La oposición marchó el 19 de mayo de 2007 en defensa de RCTV. Miles de opositores marcharon pacíficamente, algo que no pasa en dictaduras. Sin embargo, varios líderes opositores hacen llamados a que el 27 de mayo la población debe permanecer en las calles creando desestabilización para sacar al gobierno, lo cual es transmitido con normalidad en Globovisión y RCTV. Hasta llaman estúpido al Presidente Chávez.

The opposition marched on May 19, 2007 in defense of RCTV. Thousands of members of the opposition marched peacefully, which is something that does not happen in dictatorships. However, various opposition leaders are making calls that on May 27 for the population to remain in the streets creating destabilization in order to remove the government, which is a message transmitted with normalcy on Globovision and RCTV. They are even calling President Chavez stupid.

This week appears to be the end of the line for the channel. The license expires at midnight on May 27 and another Public Service station designed by the state called Tves will begin to broadcast. This is another station in the hands of the state, in addition to the official station and another four that are broadcasting on a national level.

Caracas is particularly tense and filled with protests and mobilizations for the past week. Vendors, actors and workers of the channel, university students, politicians, television viewers and members of political parties have all taken to the street … all in favor or against the shutdown of the station. Marches and gatherings are separated by geographic and ideological distances. The opposition is actively distributing audio of the protest (mp3) via the internet on the nights of the 26th and 27th in order to sound an alarm in favor of freedom of speech. The government has released the National Guard and Armed Forces in the city since Friday to prevent any public disorder.

On Monday morning, another intense reason for the political conflict will have taken place. The communications war in Venezuela will continue, even though the opposition will have one less channel at its disposal.

For a photoset, visit h_xavier's Flickr.

6 comments

  • The matter is not whether RCTV participated or not on the coup against Chávez 4 years ago. The reality is that no prosecution at any court has been made to judge according to the law the role of this channel in that coup and a punishment if any that desserve for that. At that time RCTV didn’t transmit the events that were taking place on the 12 and the 13 of april the following days of the coup as well as the other 3 private TV stations Televen, Globovision and Venevisión. But the owner of Venevision had a meeting with Chávez with the mediation of Jimmy Carter at the time of the referendum and obviously an agreement was made as after that meeting Venevisión stopped to do any criticism of the president and government performances. yesterday the Supreme Tribunal of Justice approved a disposition where allows the government to use all the transmitors, and infrastructure that belongs to RCTV to broadcast to the whole country. Also ordered the FAN, militar forces to take over the installations to protect them and guarantee the trasnmission of the new public channel , while assuring RCTv that they still will be owning that property (!?). On top one of the major competitor of RCTV and also a channel participant of the blackout of the information regarding the events of the 12 and 13 of april of the coup when Chávez was restored in power got the concesion of their signal renewed today for 20 years.
    What is obvious is that Chávez in punishing not the participation on the information blackout but the continious dissident voice and criticism in opposition of the editorial line of this channel.
    Autocensorship is also starting to work as one very well known journalist was fired of her job in a minor TV station because she participated on the demonstraton in favor of RCTV.
    80 per cent of venezuelan reject the decission of the president completely arbitrary as he acted as judge, jury and executor, overlooking and passing over any legal procedures, and prosecution through regulary channels. In Venezuela we don´t have anymore autonomous powers and the president word is now the law.
    The fear is that now with the state taking power over the phone company that covers all the nation and hold the access of internet this will be regulated as well and censorhip and blocking of access to content will start sooner than later.

  • […] seen at Global Voices as well – a great deal of strong opinion on both sides of the story. Luis Carlos Diaz translates multiple comments from a 2000-post thread on blog directory to2blogs.com, both in support of RCTV and challenging their past actions. […]

  • […] From Global Voices: Venezuela: Bloggers mobilize for and against the end of transmission of Radio Caracas Television. […]

  • […] As it happens, GVO appears to have someone else doing Venezuela coverage now. The latest posting: Venezuela: Bloggers Mobilize For and Against the End of Transmission of Radio Caracas Television. […]

  • A blogger

    I am a blogger and I am not mobilizing for RCTV. Not only is RCTV a white supremacist TV station it also was instrumental in the 2002 coup that killed dozens of people in Venezuela. It also has called for the assassination of Venezuela’s elected President. RCTV can use the private air waves. Why should the Venezuelan public give its public airwaves to a station that promotes hatred and terrorism? Why don’t you people ever call for freedom of the speech when pro chavez or prov aristide journalists are killed? You just go around following reporters without borders and the freedom house. Did you know freedom house is largely financed by the US government/ State Department. See
    http://www.haitianalysis.com/human-rights/the-freedom-house-files

  • […] 6. “On my knees, I ask you, President: return RCTV to us. I symbolize the people,” phrase from actor Franklin Virgüez, while kneeling to ask that the private channel's signal to be renewed. […]

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