MIAMI, Florida (December 29, 2006)?The Inter American Press Association
(IAPA) today repudiated a decision by Venezuela?s President Hugo Chávez
to not renew the broadcast license of television network Radio Caracas Televisión
(RCTV). Chavez made the announcement yesterday after accusing the network of supporting
plots to overthrow him and engaging in subversive activities.
The chairman of the IAPA?s Committee on Freedom of the Press and Information,
Gonzalo Marroquín, condemned ?this new violation of press freedom
and free speech by President Chávez? and declared that ?there
is no longer any doubt, given his statements and actions, that this license
non-renewal is simply a reprisal against a critical voice he sees as a nuisance.?
Marroquín, editor of the Guatemala City, Guatemala, newspaper Prensa
Libre, added, ?We renounce the fact that he seeks to punish the television
network because of its editorial stance. Likewise, we are concerned that the
government will turn around and award this license to some other news outlet
or person that will do its bidding. Both matters are equally reprehensible and
at the end of the day if there are no watchdogs over abuses in government action
the public will be stripped of its right to know.?
Chávez said that the RCTV license is due to expire in two months?
time and he has already signed a non-renewal order to take effect in March 2007.
Executives at the network, however, maintain that the license has longer to
run. On previous occasions Chávez has also threatened not to renew the
license of the Globovisión television station.
The IAPA has repeatedly denounced the Venezuelan government for increasingly
bearing down on independent news media in the country and criticized it for
taking judicial and administrative actions against them in retaliation for their
opposition to his administration.
In this regard the hemisphere free-press organization reaffirmed its call for
governments to respect press freedom and freedom of expression as values fundamental
in a democracy and stressed the need to observe Article 7 of the IAPA-sponsored
Declaration of Chapultepec, which states, ?Tariff and exchange policies,
licenses for the importation of paper or news-gathering equipment, the assigning
of radio and television frequencies and the granting or withdrawal of government
advertising may not be used to reward or punish the media or individual journalists.?