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Television programme taken off the air, allegedly due to political pressure

(IPYS-Venezuela/IFEX) - On 18 August 2010, in the central western city of Barquisimeto, the Telecentro television station's board of directors decided to take the "90 Minutos al Día" programme, hosted by journalist Minna Vargas, off the air.

Vargas told IPYS-Venezuela that "the decision was made because of political pressure, because of this they decided to censor my news and opinion programme. The station's general manager, Jesús Granadillo, reprimanded me on several occasions because of my comments against the Iribarren mayor's office".

Vargas said that she recently received a telephone call from Mayor Amalia Sáez, of Venezuela's United Socialist Party (PSUV), who stated her concerns about the opinions the journalist expressed against her administration. "I told her she was cordially invited to appear on the programme if she wanted to express her views, but she replied that she would send one of her officials".

Vargas also pointed out that Granadillo had informed her that Telecentro's open signal licence expired on 11 July. This had led him to meet with former governor Luis Reyes Reyes, of the PSUV, who has a contact who is close to President Hugo Chávez, so that he could mediate in the renewal process.

The journalist believes the PSUV official may have pressured the television station to take her off the air and change the programme's editorial line in order to receive support for the licence renewal. Vargas was told about the suspension of the programme via a telephone call from the station manager, who claimed that the decision was made based on changes to their programming.

IPYS-Venezuela contacted Granadillo, who confirmed the reasons for the programme's cancellation, saying, "We have the right to modify our programming according to our interests and needs".

IPYS-Venezuela condemns this violation of freedom of expression.

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