Saturday, May 19, 2007

Chavez gives Venezuelans no reason to celebrate 

Next week RCTVs broadcast license ends. It may or may not carry on broadcasting via cable but its 50+ years of broadcasting over the Venezuelan airwaves will be over.

Today in Caracas the Venezuelan opposition is having a large rally in support of RCTV. However, unless there is a last minute court ruling in RCTV’s favor this all seems like a done deal.

And in this bloggers view it is entirely appropriate that RCTV be taken off the air. Yes, the right of the media to have whatever editorial line is chooses should be sacrosanct. But as has been amply demonstrated, RCTV went well beyond having an anti-Chavez editorial line and actively participated in the April 2002 coup against him. I can’t imagine that any government would renew the broadcast license of a station that abetted attempts overthrow it.

However, as has been discussed before, even if RCTV sails off into the sunset there is the very real issue of what is to replace it – another private station? Another government controlled station? Or finally a station that allows the airwaves to be used in a truly democratic fashion?

Apparently the discussion has already been had, or perhaps better said, the decision has already been made by Chavez, and unfortunately it is not one that favors freedom of expression and a deepening of the country’s democracy. Rather than a truly independent station that increases the pluralism of ideas on the public domain Venezuela will have one more government controlled television station – gee just what it needed?!?!

The new station, called TEVES, just had its president handpicked by Chavez. In announcing his decision Chavez, with lots of probably unintended irony, said “Let there always be more diversity”. Yeah sure, as if having one person controlling a television network, be that one person Marcel Granier or Hugo Chavez, allows for diversity.

I suppose Venezuelans can take some consolation from the fact that they will no longer have RCTV working to promote violence and overthrow the government. That is, after all, no small thing. Yet the predominant sentiment will probably be sadness that rather than getting a network that will allow Venezuelans, in all their diversity, to be heard they will get one more network run by the rich or powerful.


This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?