Mérida, August 28, 2008 (venezuelanalysis.com)– Referring to recent claims that the Venezuelan government both wants to control the media and take over service stations, Venezuela’s President Chavez called the constant lies and distortions by the private media a “desperate campaign.”
“This is a conspiracy plan,” he said, adding that such coverage only seeks to destabilize the country and make Venezuela seem like a dictatorship.
The website Petroleumworld and the newspaper Tal Cual are claiming that President Hugo Chavez is about to pass a new Telecommunications Law that, according to Petroleumworld,
will allow him [Chavez] to leave Venezuelans incommunicado by suspending all forms of “broadcasting, emission or reception of signals, signs, written matter, images, sounds or information of any kind via cable.”
… This draconian law will give Chávez the power to silence all “voice, data, and video communications that have been invented or will be invented in the future,” … Once Chávez signs the new law, he will be able to assume absolute power in order to suspend, whenever he sees fit, any kind of information broadcast, from television, radio, Internet, and mobile telephony (including text messages) to the general telecommunication routes and networks. “
And in the Miami Herald, with the headline, “Chavez tightens grip on media,” (Aug 25 2008) the new law is referred to as a “blackout law” and the article claims that the law will award,
absolute power to the executive branch to order the blackout of information for reasons of national security. The law permitting Chávez to control information at his discretion has already been approved by the Supreme Court.
According to the new legislation, Chávez will be the only one who can order the suspension of any type of ''transmission, emission or reception of signals, signs, writings, images, sounds or information of any nature'' by invoking the need to protect public order and national security.
El Universal (Aug. 27, 2008) claims the law will be used to establish control over access to the internet with the creation of just one point of access to it.
However, the minister for Telecommunications, Socorro Hernandez, denied that the law, which is still in draft form and has yet to be taken to the National Assembly, would allow for increased state control or for media sanctions.
She explained that the law is being elaborated by her ministry, and that it was going to form part of the enabling laws but that after analyzing it, it was thought better to send it to the National Assembly for public debate.
“This is a bill that is going to be subjugated to public consultation and I don’t think there are reasons for this commotion,” said Hernandez.
The president of the Permanent Commission of Science, Technology, and Communication Media, Manuel Villalba said that the above distortions form part of a media campaign aimed at “destabilizing the country, playing with fear and keeping information from the Venezuelan people.”
“The publication yesterday [Monday] in the newspaper El Universal, in which it as indicated that within the National Assembly there is Telecommunications bill up for quick approval is totally false, we think that this has been written in a media campaign with a view towards the upcoming elections of 23 November, trying to say that the national government seeks to monopolize the system of media of the country.”
Speaking on the VTV (Venezuela Television) program “Giving and Giving,” Villalba reminded viewers that there are 700 radio stations and 70 newspapers that belong to the private sector.
Hernandez, in an interview with Union Radio also denied that they want to limit access to the internet. “Its completely the opposite, our vision is that every day we could have better utilization of the internet by the people and the citizens. This is a very useful tool and it enables us to raise the level of knowledge of our people, so for us it’s fundamental that this power reaches all sectors and its one of the aims of the new CANTV and the ministry.” CANTV is the national telephone and internet company of Venezuela.