Private Venezuelan TV Channel RCTV Agrees to Register with CONATEL

Venezuelan privately owned cable television channel RCTV has agreed to register “under protest” with the National Telecommunications Commission (CONATEL) as a national producer after it was suspended for violation of Venezuela’s media law on January 23.

By Kiraz Janicke – Venezuelanalysis.com
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Caracas, February 23, 2010 (venezuelanalysis.com) – Venezuelan privately owned cable television channel RCTV has agreed to register “under protest” with the National Telecommunications Commission (CONATEL) as a national producer after it was suspended for violation of Venezuela’s media law on January 23.

The media law establishes standards for child and adult programming, prohibits racist, sexist or inflammatory content and incitement to violence, places limits on commercial advertising, and requires stations to broadcast important government announcements.

Last July, CONATEL announced that cable broadcasters would undergo review and be subject to the media law if 70% of their content and overall operations were considered to be domestic.

RCTV reclassified itself as an “international” broadcaster in order to avoid the media regulations. However, a review found that over 90% of RCTV’s content and production was domestic.

Rather than register as a national producer the opposition aligned RCTV opted to ignore the ruling, refused to broadcast a government announcement and was subsequently sanctioned with a temporary closure.

A series of violent opposition protests followed resulting in the deaths of two students, one pro-Chavez, one opposition, who were shot dead by unidentified snipers.

Now a month after the violence, RCTV has agreed to the ruling. Director of CONATEL Diosdado Cabello said that RCTV - which together with Venezuela’s private business chamber FEDECAMARAS and other sectors, participated in the military coup against President Hugo Chavez in April 2002 – would be required to sign a statuary declaration guaranteeing compliance with the law.

Director of RCTV Marcel Granier also announced that he would launch a new international cable channel, RCTV World, whose programming would be 71% international and 29% national, in accordance with the law.

Cabello said CONTAEL was “satisfied” with the decision and added, “I think that it ratifies our position that they are national audio-visual producers and if they want to be international [producers] they must comply with the law."

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