By Robert W. McChesney & Mark Weisbrot - CommonDreams.org, Jun 2nd 2007
Regrettably, the US media coverage of Venezuela’s RCTV controversy says more about the deficiencies of our own news media that it does about Venezuela. It demonstrates again, as with the invasion of Iraq, how our news media are far too willing to carry water for Washington than to ascertain and report the truth of the matter.
On the surface, the RCTV "shut down" (as the US conservative TV channel, Fox News calls it) appears like a Castrovian giant step on the road to censorship. But there is more than one road to what Chávez likes to term, "21st century socialism."
People have been collectively tearing their hair out all over Latin America because of the Venezuelan government's decision not to renew the broadcasting licence of that country's most popular television station, RCTV. But they ignore the media situation in the rest of Latin America.
Pardon me if I'm just a little astounded by all this noise in the media, the Bush administration, the Senate and the House, about how Venezuela is "attacking" free speech and independent media by not renewing the broadcasting license of RCTV.
In spite of their lawlessness, the Chavez government treated all five broadcasters gently, opting not to prosecute them, but merely refusing to renew one of RCTV's operating licenses (its VHF one) when it expired May 27 (its cable and satellite operations are unaffected) - a mere slap on the wrist.
In Venezuela, as in Britain, TV stations must adhere to laws and regulations governing what they can broadcast. Imagine the consequences if the BBC or ITV were found to be part of a coup against the government. Venezuela deserves the same consideration.
As I write this, I am looking at a Venezuelan newspaper, El Diario, from February 10, 1992. The editorial that would have occupied half of page 2 is missing. Page 4 is completely blank. The contents were censored by the government of the then president Carlos Andres Perez.
While many people were gnashing their teeth over the Congressional decision to fund the escalation of the war in Iraq without any meaningful restriction, the Senate, led by Senators Dodd, Clinton, and Obama, did something very bizarre. It passed a resolution introduced by Dodd and Lugar denouncing Venezuela for not renewing the license of a TV station that actively supported the 2002 military coup against the democratically elected government.