July 12, 2007
(AP) -- An opposition-aligned TV station forced off the air by President Hugo Chavez said Wednesday it will take its programming to cable and satellite television.
Radio Caracas Television, or RCTV, is still waging a legal battle to reclaim its broadcast license that Chavez refused to renew, forcing it off the air on May 27.
But until it can return to the open airwaves, starting Monday RCTV will reach viewers via cable, station chief executive Marcel Granier said Wednesday.
''Venezuelans want RCTV, and they will have it,'' Granier told a news conference. ``Until we achieve the goal of regaining our signal we must try to return to the air as soon as possible through alternative means.''
Cable and satellite television cost roughly $20 a month -- more than many Venezuelan families can afford -- and reach approximately 30 percent of households.
Granier and other Chavez critics have cast doubt on the possibility of a favorable appeal process, noting that Supreme Court magistrates were appointed by Chavez's allies in the National Assembly and are widely perceived as government-friendly.
RCTV and three other major TV channels -- Venevision, Globovision and Televen -- are what Chavez has called the ''Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse.'' He has accused the channels supporting a short-lived 2002 coup by broadcasting cartoons and movies instead of the protests that aided his return to power.
Venevision and Televen have since curbed their criticism of the government, while Globovision has stayed its course. RCTV was fiercely critical of Chavez until its signal was turned over to a state-controlled public-service channel.
International press freedom groups, the European Union, the U.S. government, Human Rights Watch and others expressed concern about the move to force RCTV from the airwaves.