Monday, May 28, 2007

Venezuelan government reviewing AM license framework

Venezuelan Minister of Telecomunications and IT Jesse Chacón yesterday said the broadcast licences for all of the AM radio stations operating in the country have expired, and added that his office is currently reviewing the legal framework governing their broadcast licences. The Venezuelan Telecommunications Commission (CONATEL) recently renewed the broadcast licences of five AM radio stations, and asked another 42 to produce further documentation for renewal.

The government has also renewed, for an undisclosed time, the broadcast licence for private television station Venevisión, the major rival of 53-year-old private TV network RCTV, the licence of which expired last night at midnight and the government refused to renew.

Venevisión, owned by Gustavo Cisneros, has been engaged in political arm wrestling with the government of President Chávez, but toned down its opinion and news shows as of 2005. RCTV and Venevisión have jointly accounted for 71 percent of advertisements spots in Venezuelan television.

The broadcast licences for official television channel VTV and two regional television stations, namely Televisora Andina, southwestern Mérida state, and Amavisión, southern Amazonas state, were also renewed for a term that was not disclosed.

Regarding the role the news media should play, Chacón told private television Televen on Sunday that “the fact that the media are critical of the government is one thing, but using a public asset to encourage people to disregard the institutions is a whole different thing.”

According to the official news agency ABN, Chacón made a call to witness the birth of newly created public service Venezuelan Social Television Station (TVes) early on May 28, “in a climate of calm, on open signal channel 2.”

Channel 2 is the open signal [terrestrial free-to-air] channel previously used by RCTV.

“It is impossible to revert the measure the Venezuelan State adopted not to renew the broadcast license to private TV channel RCTV, because the relevant administrative measure has been implemented.”

He pointed out that the move is in compliance with the Venezuelan Constitution and laws.
(Source: El Universal/R Netherlands Media Network Weblog)