To that end, Venezuela continued its slide into authoritarianism Sunday when the administration ordered cable television operators to stop broadcasting Radio Caracas Television, a vocal critic of the president. Its crime? Violating regulations that require stations to televise governmental messages, including, by most accounts, Chavez's interminable weekly speeches.
RCTV has been under attack by the government since its enthusiastic support of anti-Chavez leaders and organizations in the days leading up to an attempted coup that briefly toppled the government in 2002. In 2007, the administration refused to renew the station's license to broadcast on public airwaves, which forced it to move to cable, slash personnel by half and lose $200 million in revenue. Now the station is one of a handful allegedly being punished for breaking the Law of Social Responsibility. The law requires airing not just the national anthem and government messages but the "Hello President" speeches, which can last five to seven hours.