The broadcasting bete noire of Venezuela’s President Hugo Chavez, Radio Caracas TV Internacional, has been taken off the air.
Cable operators have dropped the channel after the government said it was breaking media rules, including not broadcasting Chavez’s speeches. Several other channels were also banned.
It is not the first time RCTV has been hit. In 2007 it was forced off free-to-air wavelengths when Chavez accused it of taking part in the 2002 abortive coup.
“This is a call we are making that I insist is civil and democratic, a powerful call against the abuse of authority we have observed systematically taking place, and very dangerous for the public freedoms of our country,” said the leader of the Journalist’s union.
During the 2002 coup anti-Chavez protests got wall-to-wall coverage on RCTV, but when he was restored the channel did not cover the event. It is a popular channel, but Chavez does not seem to care;
“These are a few petit-bourgeois people who can afford themselves the luxury of challenging the government. that’s fine. If they don’t comply with the rules, they’ll never have an outlet, never again,” he said on a rival channel.
RCTV’s first closure in 2007 sparked street demonstrations four days later. The company relocated to Miami to avoid content restrictions, but the government ruled it is still subject to local laws because most of its content is Venezuelan-produced.