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Journalist's programme cancelled because of political pressure; reporter faces defamation complaint

(IPYS-Venezuela/IFEX) - On 28 July 2011, journalist and presenter Henry Viola denounced the fact that his radio station Primerísima 98.5 FM program, "Magazine Informativo", was cancelled only 15 days after having premiered because of political pressure. The incident occurred in the state of Barinas, western Venezuela.

The program went on air on 11 July, in the 10:00 am to 12:00 noon slot, and continued to be broadcast until 28 July. According to Viola, the station's director informed him that "following orders from above" he could not be allowed to broadcast any more.

Viola has been similarly targeted in the past. In February, "Magazine Informativo" was broadcast through the regional TV station Barinas TV, but then was taken off the air because of pressure exerted by the governor of Barinas, Adán Chávez, and the president of the Zamora Football Cub team, Adelis Chávez, siblings of President Hugo Chávez.

Subsequently, in April, his "Magazine de Radio" programme, directed at young people, which was broadcast daily through Familia 107.1 FM, was also taken off the radio station following orders issued by officials of the National Telecommunications Commission (CONATEL).

In a separate incident, on 5 August, Latin American Parliament representative Pedro Lander filed a defamation complaint against "El Universal" newspaper journalist Sara Carolina Díaz with the Attorney General's Office, based in Caracas, Venezuela.

On 3 August, Díaz published a news article stating that passersby in the vicinity of the Federal Law Courts told her that Lander had allegedly assaulted a street person.

The journalist was not able to reach the member of parliament to get his version of events, so she talked to his wife, Carolina Cestari, director of the National Assembly's radio station, who denied that Lander was involved in the attack. The journalist referred to this conversation in the article.

Lander threatened to sue immediately after reading the piece. He has now filed a formal complaint against the journalist, and has told the media that he has sued Díaz because she is trying to "damage my image as a member of parliament."

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