Venezuela Transfers Private Radio Licenses to Community Media Groups
Interview with Gregory Wilpert, sociologist and author, conducted by Scott Harris
In early August, the government of Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez revoked the broadcast licenses of 32 privately held radio stations and 2 regional television stations, triggering objections from opposition groups. According to officials at Venezuela's telecommunications agency, CONATEL, the decision on the radio stations was made because their licenses had expired or they had violated government regulations. The status of another 200 station licenses are currently under review. Licenses from the closed outlets will be transferred to community media groups.
Nelson Belfort, president of the Chamber of Radio Broadcasters and Circuito Nacional Belfort, owner of five of the closed stations, charged that the revocation of licenses is a government attack on freedom of expression. The Chavez government and privately-owned media outlets have clashed repeatedly in recent years, particularly since many media outlets supported the failed coup attempt against President Chavez in April 2002. In May 2007, tensions were heightened when the Chavez government denied the national opposition television station RCTV, a renewal of their license.
Between the Lines' Scott Harris spoke with sociologist and author Gregory Wilpert, a former U.S. Fulbright Scholar who lived in Venezuela for many years. He examines the long-running media-government conflict in Venezuela and the charge that Chavez is attempting to suppress all opposition criticism of his government.
Gregory Wilpert is the author of "Changing Venezuela by Taking Power, The History and Policies of the Chavez Goverment." Wilpert is an editor of the online publication www.venezuelanalysis.com
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