June 12, 2009

Hugo Chavez Enacts His Own Version Of The Fairness Doctrine

Barry has been overheard saying, "That Chavez guy. I like the cut of his jib."

Chavez on Thursday urged executives at Globovision "to reflect" upon the TV channel's tough anti-government stance — or else the station "won't be on the airwaves much longer."

The socialist leader has threatened Globovision before, demanding sanctions against the channel for its alleged violation of broadcast regulations. Chavez told a crowd of his supporters on Thursday that he "doesn't care" if such a decision were to draw international criticism.

Chavez recently called for sanctions against Globovision, and within a week Venezuela's tax agency slapped the network with a $2.3 million fine, prosecutors charged its president in a probe into alleged fraud and lawmakers began investigating the channel for purportedly joining an anti-government conspiracy.

Broadcast regulators also are investigating Globovision for inciting "panic and anxiety" during its coverage of a minor earthquake last month, when station director Alberto Federico Ravell criticized state television for failing to quickly inform its viewers about the severity of the quake.

Free press and rights groups have condemned the investigation. The New York-based Committee to Protect Journalists warned against what it called "unwarranted accusations against the press" in Venezuela.

Chavez accused Globovision on Thursday of "poisoning people" and "sowing hate" among Venezuelans. He denied that he's trying to silence critics, telling supporters they "should not allow themselves to be manipulated" by detractors who "accuse the government of persecuting journalists."

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