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JOURNALISTS MARCH FOR RCTV

Journalists in Venezuela used National Journalists' Day on 27 June to demand that President Hugo Chavez reverse his decision to take the country's oldest broadcaster, Radio Caracas Television (RCTV), off the air.

The Venezuelan media workers' union, the Sindicato Nacional de Trabajadores de la Prensa (SNTP), led a 10,000-strong march of reporters, students, actors, trade unionists and civil society reps in the capital Caracas to RCTV headquarters to demand that the government respect the right to freedom of expression and renew RCTV's broadcasting licence. Solidarity demonstrations were held in provincial cities.

"Venezuelan colleagues are deeply concerned that the government in Caracas is engaged in a new phase of intimidation of media which can damage pluralism of opinion and stifle voices of dissent," says the International Federation of Journalists (IFJ).

A recent study by the Institute of Press and Society (Instituto Prensa y Sociedad, IPYS) suggests that the government is increasingly turning to lawsuits and other legal actions to silence journalists, now the second most prominent free expression violation in the country after direct threats, according to IPYS's records.

27 June also marks the first month of RCTV being off the air. The end of RCTV broadcasts has sparked weeks of protests in Venezuela and condemnation from the U.S. Congress, as well as numerous press freedom groups worldwide. According to Reporters Without Borders (Reporters sans frontières, RSF), RCTV has managed to air some of its programmes on cable outside of Venezuela, including popular channel Televisa in Mexico, and via the Internet.

Visit these links:
- IFJ: http://www.ifj.org/default.asp?Index=5059&Language=EN
- RSF: http://www.rsf.org/article.php3?id_article=22742
- SNTP: http://www.sntp.org.ve/principal23.asp
- Story on IPYS report: http://tinyurl.com/33dxg7
(3 July 2007)

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