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Venezuelan Freedom of the Press Strongly Threatened as Government Notifies Leading Television Network Venevision of Pending Action.

Business Editors

More than 1,000 Well-Organized Chavez Supporters Accompany

Government Officials to Network's Headquarters Yesterday

CARACAS, Venezuela--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Feb. 6, 2003

Representatives of the Venezuelan Ministry of Infrastructure (Minfra) yesterday notified Venezuela's leading broadcast television channel, Venevision, that it has begun an administrative action against it.

Venevision, which has provided news, sports and entertainment to the Venezuelan people for more than 40 years, is the last national broadcast television network to be notified by the government. With the four broadcast television networks hampered in their ability to deliver information to the people, the threats to silence mass media made by the government's leader, have now taken shape.

The president of Venevision, Victor Ferreres, confirmed that the notice of action he received was identical to those given to the other television networks. A key difference, however, was the presence of a mob of more than 1,000 government supporters, who accompanied the Minfra representatives to Venevision's offices. The government supporters arrived at the Venevision building, located in Hills of the Caobos, on foot and in approximately 30 buses that are property of the Mayorship of Caracas. When the representatives of Minfra left the Venevision offices, the mob followed them immediately.

Ferreres stated: "The people of Venezuela will defend themselves against this threat to freedom of expression, and the slow erosion of civil liberties."

The government threat to national Venezuelan television broadcasters began on January 21st, with the notification of proposed action first to the Globovision network and subsequently to Radio Caracas Television (RCTV) and Televen.

The actions of Minfra are not restricted solely to broadcast television. On February 4th, the Minister of Infrastructure, Diosdado Hair, announced the possibility of extending the same action against both radio broadcasters and local television stations.
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Publication:Business Wire
Date:Feb 6, 2003
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