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Three cable TV stations allowed to resume broadcasting, RCTVI still suspended

(RSF/IFEX) - Three of the six cable TV stations that were suspended on 24 January 2010 received permission to resume broadcasting three days later. They are American Network, Ritmo Son (owned by the Mexico's Televisa group) and TV Chile. But the Mexican station Momentum, the Peruvian station America TV and RCTV-Internacional (RCTVI) are still banned.

This partial U-turn by the government unfortunately tends to confirm that the 22 December 2009 decree forcing cable TV stations regarded as "national broadcasting producers" to retransmit President Hugo Chávez's long speeches was in fact targeted against RCTVI and RCTVI alone.

There is growing concern about the reaction to this latest round in Venezuela's media war, especially after the death of two students in protests. Public works minister Diosdado Cabello, who also heads the National Telecommunications Commission (Conatel), was supposed to meet with representatives of the affected stations at the start of the week. What became of this meeting? And above all, why impose the networked presidential broadcasts known as "cadenas" on so many stations when one would have been enough?

From the time of his installation as president on 2 February 1999 until 21 January 2010, Chávez had spoken for a combined total of 55 days in airtime in these marathon networked broadcasts. This does not include the show "Aló Presidente," which President Chávez himself hosts every Sunday on the main state TV station, Venezolana de Televisión (VTV).

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