Venezuelan students protest against Chavez media: two dead

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The march was against state-run VTV television (AFP)

A spokesperson for the protesters said that “for the first time in more than a year,” VTV was paying attention to the opposition students’ movement, even if only because 1,000 students marched to the network’s studios in Caracas.

The march to VTV came amid competing street demonstrations by opponents and supporters of President Hugo Chavez over his government’s decision to temporarily suspend Radio Caracas Television Internacional from the country’s cable television system for regulatory infractions.

Two Chavez partisans, one of them a 15-year-old, were fatally shot Monday during similar protests in the western city of Merida, authorities said.

Five protesters were admitted to VTV for talks with network executives in an atmosphere of cordiality and mutual respect, student leader Roderick Navarro said.

Some of the opposition students scuffled with police as the marchers left VTV, prompting officers to launch tear gas.

But the government opponents were well clear of the area before a group of Chavez supporters arrived to stage a counter-demonstration in favour of the administration.

The Cavetesu cable association said it dropped RCTV Internacional and five other stations from its lineup at midnight Saturday for their failure to comply with rules lay down by the Conatel regulatory agency.

Conatel distinguishes between “national” and “international” channels based on the source of content. RCTV Internacional maintains that it is an international channel and, as such, not subject to regulations requiring national outlets to transmit official addresses whenever the president demands.

But Conatel says RCTV Internacional does not qualify as an international channel because more than 70% of its programming is produced in Venezuela.

Venezuela’s opposition, joined by foreign governments and international organizations, has condemned the suspension of RCTV Internacional as a blow to freedom of expression.

RCTV, the Andean nation’s oldest television outlet, has transmitted via cable and satellite since it was forced off the public airwaves in 2007. The Chavez administration declined to renew the outlet’s broadcasting license, citing the station’s support for an abortive April 2002 coup.


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