In a press release today, the Washington-based Venezuela Information Office says the history of RCTV should be considered by Venezuela's critics:
RCTV's history of noncompliance with federal broadcasting guidelines that predate the Chavez administration. Since 1976, RCTV has been fined or temporarily closed six times, including for airing pornographic scenes, cigarette advertisements, sensationalist programming, and tendentious news coverage. Additionally, in 2002 RCTV aired programming calling on the public to take to the streets and overthrow the democratically elected president, a feat that would surely be punished by jail time and charges of treason if tried in the U.S. Yet, the station has been allowed to continue broadcasting to this day.
Venezuela's National Telecommunications Commission, which operates exactly like the US FCC, ruled that RCTV's long history of unlawful acts warranted the decision to refuse to renew the license. Venezuela's Supreme Court upheld the decision.
Olivia Goumbri, Executive Director of the Venezuela Information Office, stated that,
In the U.S. the FCC has shut down TV stations for far less. In this case though, the expiration of RCTV’s contract is an opportunity for the government to reconsider its 20 year old license, and whether or not a station which has violated broadcasting regulations and the law to such an extreme extent should have its license renewed.
RCTV will be able continue to transmit via cable and satellite. And despite the claims of those who hate the Venezuelan government, the vast majority of Venezuela's media remain in private hands, most of which oppose the policies of the government.
In a hypothetical comparison: imagine how the conservatives would howl if the New York Times called for the violent overthrow of the Bush regime and applauded his kidnapping and possible execution.
In a realistic comparison: Do you remember when right-wing pundits and politicians accused the New York Times of treason for doing little more than publishing stories with classified information purposely leaked to the press? What happens to people convicted of treason?
The point is that RCTV's record as a scofflaw and as an inciter of violence is clear. Let's not let political biases cover for phony claims of the abuse of a free press.