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National Telecommunications Commission orders closure of 32 radio and two television stations

(IPYS/IFEX) - On the evening of 31 July 2009, the minister for public works and housing, who is also the director of the National Telecommunications Commission (CONATEL), Diosdado Cabello, announced that the licences of 32 radio and two television stations would be revoked and the stations closed down immediately based on alleged violations of the Telecommunications Law. The stations are accused of failing to comply with a request for updated information issued by CONATEL in June.

Cabello justified the drastic measure by pointing out that the closure of the media outlets in question has taken effect immediately because it involves cases where the licence holder died or resigned, where the licence expired or where a request for change of title for the licence was denied.

The affected media outlets include 12 AM radio stations, 20 FM stations and two UHF television stations. One of the radio stations is based in Caracas, while the rest of the broadcasters are located in the country's interior (for a complete list, see: http://www.globovision.com/news.php?nid=123396 ).

On 3 July, Cabello ordered CONATEL to initiate proceedings to revoke the licenses that allow 240 radio stations (154 FM and 84 AM) and 45 television stations (10 VHF and 35 UHF) to broadcast via an open signal because they had not complied with the information request. The closure of the 34 stations is the first concrete action to result from these proceedings. An announcement by Cabello regarding the closure of more media outlets is expected in the next few days.

IPYS condemns the closure of the stations by CONATEL and views the action as an attack on freedom of expression and information.

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