RCTV: Sine Die
And Good Riddance
By Stephen Lendman
28 May, 2007
TV station Radio Caracas Television's (known as RCTV) VHF Channel 2's
operating license expired May 27, and it went off the air because the
Chavez government, with ample justification, chose not to renew it.
RCTV was the nation's oldest private broadcaster, operating since 1953.
It's also had a tainted record of airing Venezuela's most hard right
yellow journalism, consistently showing a lack of ethics, integrity
or professional standards in how it operated as required by the law
it arrogantly flaunted.
Starting May 28, a new public
TV station (TVES) replaces it bringing Venezuelans a diverse range of
new programming TV channel Vive president, Blanca Eckhout, says will
"promot(e) the participation and involvement of all Venezuelans
in the task of communication (as an alternative to) the media concentration
of the radio-electric spectrum that remains in the hands of a (dominant
corporate) minority sector" representing elitist business interests,
not the people.
Along with the other four
major corporate-owned dominant television channels (controlling 90%
of the nation's TV market), RCTV played a leading role instigating and
supporting the aborted April, 2002 two-day coup against President Chavez
mass public opposition on the streets helped overturn restoring Chavez
to office and likely saving his life. Later in the year, these stations
conspired again as active participants in the economically devastating
2002-03 main trade union confederation (CTV) - chamber of commerce (Fedecameras)
lockout and industry-wide oil strike including willful sabotage against
state oil company PDVSA costing it an estimated $14 billion in lost
revenue and damage.
This writer explained the
dominant corporate media's active role in these events in an extended
January, 2007 article titled "Venezuela's RCTV Acts of Sedition."
It presented conclusive evidence RCTV and the other four corporate-run
TV stations violated Venezuela's Law of Social Responsibility for Radio
and Television (LSR). That law guarantees freedom of expression without
censorship but prohibits, as it should, transmission of messages illegally
promoting, apologizing for, or inciting disobedience to the law that
includes enlisting public support for the overthrow of a democratically
elected president and his government.
In spite of their lawlessness,
the Chavez government treated all five broadcasters gently opting not
to prosecute them, but merely refusing to renew one of RCTV's operating
licenses (its VHF one) when it expired May 27 (its cable and satellite
operations are unaffected) - a mere slap on the wrist for a media enterprise's
active role in trying to overthrow the democratically elected Venezuelan
president and his government. The article explained if an individual
or organization of any kind incited public hostility, violence and anti-government
rebellion under Section 2384 of the US code, Title 18, they would be
subject to fine and/or imprisonment for up to 20 years for the crime
They might also be subject
to prosecution for treason under Article 3, Section 3 of the US Constitution
stating: "Treason against the United States, shall consist only
in levying War against them, or in adhering to their enemies, giving
them Aid and Comfort" such as instigating an insurrection or rebellion
and/or sabotage to a national defense utility that could include state
oil company PDVSA's facilities vital to the operation and economic viability
of the country and welfare of its people. It would be for US courts
to decide if conspiring to overthrow a democratically government conformed
to this definition, but it's hard imagining it would not at least convict
offenders of sedition.
to the Chavez Government Action
So far, the dominant Venezuelan
media's response to RCTV's shutdown has been relatively muted, but it
remains to be seen for how long. However, for media outside the country,
it's a different story with BBC one example of misreporting in its usual
style of deference to power interests at home and abroad. May 28 on
the World Service, it reported RCTV's license wasn't renewed because
"it supported opposition candidates" in a gross perversion
of the facts, but that's how BBC operates.
BBC online was more nuanced
and measured, but nonetheless off the mark in key comments like reporting
"Hundreds of thousands of people took to the streets in Caracas
Sunday, some to celebrate, others to protest" RCTV's shuttering.
Unexplained was that Chavez supporters way outnumbered opponents who
nearly always are part of rightist/corporate-led staged for the media
events in contrast to spontaneous pro-government crowds assembling in
huge numbers at times, especially whenever Chavez addresses them publicly.
BBC also exaggerated "skirmishes"
on the streets with "Police us(ing) tear gas and water cannons
to disperse (crowds) and driving through the streets on motorbikes,
officers fired plastic bullets in the air." It also underplayed
pro-government supportive responses while blaring opposition ones like
"Chavez thinks he owns the country. Well, he doesn't." Another
was "No to the closure. Freedom." And still another was "Everyone
has the right to watch what they want. He can't take away this channel."
BBC played it up commenting "As the afternoon drew on, the protests
got louder." The atmosphere became nasty. Shots were fired in the
air and people ran for cover. It was not clear who was firing"
when it's nearly always clear as it's been in the past - anti-Chavistas
sent to the streets to stir up trouble and blame it on Chavez.
BBC's commentary ended saying
"The arguments highlight, once again, how deeply divided Venezuela
is." Unmentioned was that division is about 70 - 80% pro-Chavez,
around 20% opposed (the more privileged "sifrino" class),
and a small percentage pro and con between them.
lives in Chicago and can be reached at email@example.com.
Also visit his blog site
at sjlendman.blogspot.com and listen to The Steve Lendman
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