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Venezuela's RCTV: Sine Die and Good Riddance

Written by Subject: World News
Venezuela's RCTV: Sine Die and Good Riddance - by Stephen Lendman

Venezuelan TV station Radio Caracas Television's (known as RCTV) VHF Channel 2's operating license expired May 27, and it went off the air because the Chavez government, with ample justification, chose not to renew it. RCTV was the nation's oldest private broadcaster, operating since 1953. It's also had a tainted record of airing Venezuela's most hard right yellow journalism, consistently showing a lack of ethics, integrity or professional standards in how it operated as required by the law it arrogantly flaunted.

Starting May 28, a new public TV station (TVES) replaces it bringing Venezuelans a diverse range of new programming TV channel Vive president, Blanca Eckhout, says will "promot(e) the participation and involvement of all Venezuelans in the task of communication (as an alternative to) the media concentration of the radio-electric spectrum that remains in the hands of a (dominant corporate) minority sector" representing elitist business interests, not the people.

Along with the other four major corporate-owned dominant television channels (controlling 90% of the nation's TV market), RCTV played a leading role instigating and supporting the aborted April, 2002 two-day coup against President Chavez mass public opposition on the streets helped overturn restoring Chavez to office and likely saving his life. Later in the year, these stations conspired again as active participants in the economically devastating 2002-03 main trade union confederation (CTV) - chamber of commerce (Fedecameras) lockout and industry-wide oil strike including willful sabotage against state oil company PDVSA costing it an estimated $14 billion in lost revenue and damage.

This writer explained the dominant corporate media's active role in these events in an extended January, 2007 article titled "Venezuela's RCTV Acts of Sedition." It presented conclusive evidence RCTV and the other four corporate-run TV stations violated Venezuela's Law of Social Responsibility for Radio and Television (LSR). That law guarantees freedom of expression without censorship but prohibits, as it should, transmission of messages illegally promoting, apologizing for, or inciting disobedience to the law that includes enlisting public support for the overthrow of a democratically elected president and his government.

In spite of their lawlessness, the Chavez government treated all five broadcasters gently opting not to prosecute them, but merely refusing to renew one of RCTV's operating licenses (its VHF one) when it expired May 27 (its cable and satellite operations are unaffected) - a mere slap on the wrist for a media enterprise's active role in trying to overthrow the democratically elected Venezuelan president and his government. The article explained if an individual or organization of any kind incited public hostility, violence and anti-government rebellion under Section 2384 of the US code, Title 18, they would be subject to fine and/or imprisonment for up to 20 years for the crime of sedition.

They might also be subject to prosecution for treason under Article 3, Section 3 of the US Constitution stating: "Treason against the United States, shall consist only in levying War against them, or in adhering to their enemies, giving them Aid and Comfort" such as instigating an insurrection or rebellion and/or sabotage to a national defense utility that could include state oil company PDVSA's facilities vital to the operation and economic viability of the country and welfare of its people. It would be for US courts to decide if conspiring to overthrow a democratically government conformed to this definition, but it's hard imagining it would not at least convict offenders of sedition.

Opposition Response to the Chavez Government Action

So far, the dominant Venezuelan media's response to RCTV's shutdown has been relatively muted, but it remains to be seen for how long. However, for media outside the country, it's a different story with BBC one example of misreporting in its usual style of deference to power interests at home and abroad. May 28 on the World Service, it reported RCTV's license wasn't renewed because "it supported opposition candidates" in a gross perversion of the facts, but that's how BBC operates.

BBC online was more nuanced and measured, but nonetheless off the mark in key comments like reporting "Hundreds of thousands of people took to the streets in Caracas Sunday, some to celebrate, others to protest" RCTV's shuttering. Unexplained was that Chavez supporters way outnumbered opponents who nearly always are part of rightist/corporate-led staged for the media events in contrast to spontaneous pro-government crowds assembling in huge numbers at times, especially whenever Chavez addresses them publicly.

BBC also exaggerated "skirmishes" on the streets with "Police us(ing) tear gas and water cannons to disperse (crowds) and driving through the streets on motorbikes, officers fired plastic bullets in the air." It also underplayed pro-government supportive responses while blaring opposition ones like "Chavez thinks he owns the country. Well, he doesn't." Another was "No to the closure. Freedom." And still another was "Everyone has the right to watch what they want. He can't take away this channel." BBC played it up commenting "As the afternoon drew on, the protests got louder." The atmosphere became nasty. Shots were fired in the air and people ran for cover. It was not clear who was firing" when it's nearly always clear as it's been in the past - anti-Chavistas sent to the streets to stir up trouble and blame it on Chavez.

BBC's commentary ended saying "The arguments highlight, once again, how deeply divided Venezuela is." Unmentioned was that division is about 70 - 80% pro-Chavez, around 20% opposed (the more privileged "sifrino" class), and a small percentage pro and con between them.

Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago and can be reached at

Also visit his blog site at and listen to The Steve Lendman News and Information Hour on Saturdays at noon US central time.

2 Comments in Response to

Comment by Mike Renzulli
Entered on:

Actually RCTV is the only privately owned TV station left in Venezuela who has been openly critical of Chavez**Q**s administration and his policies. Just goes to show how tolerant socialists are of criticism as long as it is not levied at them.

Comment by Ernest Hancock
Entered on:

Shutting down alternative views is a bad idea for too many reasons to fully list.
Libertarians don**Q**t fear alternative views because the comparison is very instructive. And if I were to suspend the writings of Stephen Lenderman because I disagreed with his views and socialist opinions the libertarian message would be far more damaged than the socialist message.
This is what has happened to Chavez and the Venezuela government. By getting away with the silencing of criticism they have guaranteed their failure. Economically, politically and morally they will be bankrupt. The moment Castro dies the old agreements will die with him and things will change dramatically. I suspect that Venezuela and other countries that have gone down the socialist totalitarian road will quickly follow Cuba’s decline.
But until then, Stephen Lenderman’s opinions will be published here for us all to have access to a mind that helps us understand the thought process behind such thinking. Of course Stephen’s support of Chavez and the central planning he represents will be defended to the death no matter what is done in defense of this philosophy, and we need to witness it and comment when motivated to. But I see no difference from a libertarian perspective between the top down “Comply or Die” mentality of Chavez when compared to Bush’s central planning.
Stephen is a seasoned and committed socialist that is not likely to change his views much. But I hope his readers are exposed to enough information here on FreedomsPhoenix to understand why libertarians welcome the comparisons between the different philosophies given a voice here and understand how simple it is to see that you either own yourself or someone else does. Chavez and Bush are very certain that they know what is best for the people they claim to be theirs to control and regulate. Sending you to a Free Speech Zone or taking your TV Station away puts you in the same collectivist club that individual empowerment through technology and humanity’s experience with just about every form of collective the bad guys have come with. The latest “Do What We Say,.. or we’ll kill you” justification for control over populations in the form of some new mindless and faceless gang of “Rulers” will continue until these “Gangs with a Flag” are made irrelevant in the minds of individuals.
The evolution of the mind of humanity is certain. The more individuals are able to be informed, the more that information becomes realtime, the more technology provides for self sustaining off grid living and the more we all understand the corrosive effect of coercive governments, the sooner we’ll all see what the future holds for us. And if we can’t find freedom on this planet,… the universe is a very big place to look. And humanity is always looking.
Ernest Hancock – Publisher - FreedomsPhoenix

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