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CONATEL shuts down one radio station; programme cancelled at another

(IPYS/IFEX) - On 12 January 2010, Diosdado Cabello, Minister for Public Works and Housing, and head of the National Telecommunications Commission (CONATEL), issued an order shutting down the Ríos 95.3 radio station, which operated in the city of Pedraza, Barinas state, in western Venezuela.

CONATEL justified the measure by pointing out that the station was operating without the necessary permits required by law.

Ender Cesareo Ovalles, the radio station's owner, told "La Prensa" newspaper, that CONATEL's decision is an outrage and accused Pedraza's mayor, Yussein Silva, of having used his contacts to achieve this "unfair measure", as a reprisal against the fact that the station allowed the town's inhabitants to vent their complaints on the air.

Ovalles said that the CONATEL officials who carried out the order were accompanied by more than 70 members of the State Police and the National Guard, who surrounded the communication outlet's premises.

In a separate incident on 11 January, the "Público & Confidencial" program, broadcast on the station 90.5 Éxitos de Unión Radio, was taken off the air following a decision by the station's board of directors. The program was presented by journalists Damián Prat and Oscar Murillo in the city of Guayana, Bolívar state, in southern Venezuela.

Prat told IPYS that the radio station's manager, Héctor Bolívar, let the two journalists know that the program had been cancelled when they returned from vacation.

According to Prat, the decision was made because the program annoyed the State of Bolívar's authorities, when it denounced their bad management of public affairs. The program had a strong following among the region's working class, a large portion of the electorate.

The journalist reported on the program's cancellation in the column he writes for the newspaper "El Correo del Caroní".

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