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RSF releases inventory of president Chávez's broadcast speeches, points to polarisation of the media

(RSF/IFEX) - The following is an abridged version of a 13 February 2009 RSF press release:

CONSTITUTIONAL VOTE HELD IN CLIMATE OF POLARISED MEDIA AND SURFEIT OF PRESIDENTIAL SPEECHES

Venezuelans will vote in a referendum, on 15 February, on a constitutional amendment sought by President Hugo Chávez on an end to limiting terms of office, in particular that of the head of state, in a campaign that has become mired in tension and seen frequent assaults on the media.

Reporters Without Borders is releasing an inventory of the president's broadcast speeches - known as "cadenas" - delivered throughout the year, along with partial results of a study of the coverage of the referendum campaign by the main broadcast media, public and private.

"It is not for Reporters Without Borders to pronounce on the objective of the referendum, the result of which is a matter for Venezuelan citizens. However, and taking into account what is really at stake, whether president Chávez will be allowed to run again after 2012, we note that polarisation of the media has widened still further to a point that interferes with calm debate and exposes journalists to greater insecurity.

Chávez has responded to an opposition campaign that confuses 'unlimited re-election' with 'presidency for life', by monopolising public debate through his 'cadenas', which are of doubtful interest and worth. An election campaign, an ideal time for pluralism of opinions, should allow an equal share of airtime, which the state is supposed to guarantee," the organisation said.

To read the full report, see: http://www.rsf.org/article.php3?id_article=30302

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