Pulling the plug

Por Venezuela Real - 14 de Junio, 2007, 8:43, Categoría: Política Nacional

The Economist
May 31, 2007

In silencing an irritating broadcaster, Hugo Chávez has taken a big step away from democracy

WHEN a television station closes down, it is not so unusual for its soap stars and journalists to bid tearful on-screen farewells. The remarkable thing about the closure of Radio Caracas Televisión (RCTV) was that it was also marked by protest demonstrations by tens of thousands of Venezuelans. That was not just because RCTV is Venezuela's oldest television company and aired many of its favourite shows. It was also because the protesters judged, rightly, that in pulling the plug on RCTV Hugo Chávez's leftist government has taken another big step away from democracy.

After winning 63% of the vote and another six-year term in a presidential election last December, Mr Chávez announced that RCTV's broadcasting licence would not be renewed when it expired on May 27th. The government's reasons are that the channel acted as an opposition mouthpiece, and that it backed a short-lived coup against Mr Chávez in April 2002. His apologists around the world make the claim that, despite RCTV's closure, Venezuela's media remain free and plural.

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