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Venezuelan TV station's shutdown

June 03, 2007

Re "In Venezuela, popular TV station goes dark," May 29

Venezuelan television station RCTV is in arrears on its taxes, has violated labor laws and has pornography infractions. The rub is that RCTV is in opposition to the Venezuelan government. RCTV was party to the illegal military coup against the democratically elected government of Hugo Chavez in 2002. RCTV will no longer have access to the public airwaves but will continue to broadcast on satellite and cable. The issue is not free speech but the sovereign right of a state to regulate its public airwaves.

ROGER D. HARRIS

Corte Madera, Calif.

The writer is president of the Marin Interfaith Task Force on the Americas.

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If a U.S. TV network promoted the violent overthrow of the government, it would not only be shut down, its owners would be prosecuted. Despite its flaws, the Venezuelan government enjoys much popular support because, for the first time in its history, oil revenues are benefiting the majority in the form of schools, clinics and other services, in stark contrast to decades in which a corrupt oligarchy kept the country's oil wealth in the hands of a few.

KEVIN DANAHER

San Francisco

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Re "Chavez didn't start this media war," Opinion, May 30

People such as Bart Jones are willing to embrace tyrants as long as these tyrants speak against the U.S. government. What is taking place in Venezuela is not a case of a station violating the laws, as Jones claims, but the case of a president curtailing freedoms and violating the constitution. RCTV was never formally charged with any crime and had the same legal right as all other stations to stay on the air but was singled out for closure because it was the opposition TV station with the largest popularity.

GUSTAVO CORONEL

McLean, Va.

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