Reporters Without Borders today releases a report of a fact-finding trip it made to Venezuela from 24 to 28 May to examine the impact of the closure of Radio Caracas Televisión (RCTV), the country’s most popular television station.
RCTV’s 53 years in broadcasting came to end at midnight on 27 May, five months after President Hugo Chávez announced that its licence would not be renewed because it had supported the coup that briefly ousted him in April 2002.
Widely condemned abroad, RCTV’s closure was much more than just an administrative measure. It was a political move without precedent in Latin America, a key element in a government takeover of the broadcast media that is part of a determined effort to control and occupy the entire public arena.
Reporters Without Borders went to Venezuela to assess the consequences of this event on press freedom and free expression in the country, meeting with media owners, journalists, NGO representatives and political analysts. It also spent RCTV’s last day on the air at the commercial broadcaster’s headquarters.
The press freedom organisation found that the decisions to close RCTV and transfer its terrestrial broadcast channel to a new public TV station, Televisora Venezolana Social (Tves), were conducted outside of all regular legal channels and in defiance of the jurisprudence established by the Organisation of American States, to which Venezuela belongs.
Reporters Without Borders intends to refer this matter to the United Nations Human Rights Council, the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights and the Council of Europe.