RCTV was “accused” of inciting violence
The Chavez government would have needed to prove the veracity of its ‘accusations’ about RCTV–playing a leading role in instigating and supporting the 2002 coup–only if it had decided to bring RCTV to court on criminal charges of sedition or treason. However, despite the abundant evidence that RCTV had served as the coup plotters’ “secret weapon” (their own words!)–by orchestrating the civil unrest that was so central to the coup plotters strategy (by rallying the opposition to march on the presidential palace, ensuring a clash with the pro-government demonstraters), and then subsequently failing to inform the public that the coup failed–the Chavez government opted not to PROSECUTE RCTV, but merely NOT TO RENEW RCTV’s broadcasting license when it expired… five years later! This was a mere slap on the wrist for a private media enterprise that used the public airwaves to call for the overthrow the democratically elected government! You must understand that using the public airwaves is a privilege, not a right! Under Venezuelan law, the government is under no obligation to renew the license of any private media outlet–they’re not automatically entitled to license renewals! When a TV station like RCTV abandons the public interest and violates the public’s trust by participating in a plot to remove a democratically elected government, it has no business complaining about losing its privileged access to the public airwaves! Update: I wish I were responding to the latest news about Globovision (not old news about RCTV). But I haven’t been following this story, and so I’ll wait until I become aware of the facts before I comment.
How am I misrepresenting the facts? Chavez has not banned any private media that I am aware of. His government chose not to renew RCTV’s license to broadcast on public airwaves when it came up for renewal, citing RCTV’s participation in the illegal, anti-democratic coup attempt of 2002. The station was not shut down; it was allowed to continue broadcasting via cable and satellite.
[RCTV's] “crime” was reporting events from a more or less impartial POV and airing both sides of the event
That is not at all an accurate description of RCTV’s coverage of the 2002 coup attempt. Even the Wikipedia article on RCTV, which you cited above, contradicts your description.
Re: Alleged Impartiality of RCTV
RCTV reported these actions [the illegal coup against a popular, democratically elected government] as a victory for democracy and conducted friendly interviews with leaders of the movement. […]
Footage from the Irish documentary The Revolution Will Not Be Televised appeared to show a coup leader *thanking RCTV* and Venevisión for their assistance, **calling the media “[our] secret weapon”**. […]
RCTV *encouraged pro-coup protests*, *celebrated* when Chávez was temporarily removed from power, and **broadcast false reports that Chávez had renounced his presidency**. […]
Re: “Airing both sides of the event”
Subsequently the new government rapidly unraveled, after Carmona issued a decree that established a transitional government, dissolving the National Assembly and the Supreme Court, and suspending several Chávez appointees. While his own coalition wavered, large sectors of the armed forces moved into the Chávez camp, linked up with a mass popular uprising from the barrios, and restored Chávez to office. RCTV DECLINED TO REPORT ANY OF THESE EVENTS, preferring to broadcast reruns of looney tunes and the film Pretty Woman.
According to the Chicago Tribune, RCTV and other broadcasters supported the failed coup “by directing marchers and then failing to inform the public that the coup had failed”. […]
In addition, when Chávez returned to power, RCTV did not report the news but rather broadcast entertainment programs such as the movie Pretty Woman. […]
This is all on the Wikipedia article you cited as support for your claims.
I don’t consider a democracy a regime in which one of the conditions to get a broadcasting license is supporting the government. The problem was not that RCTV did not ‘support the (Chavez) government’, but that RCTV did not even support democracy, the process or the system by which that government came to be elected by the Venezuelan people!
A democracy, by definition, must allow an opposition to exist.
You must be very uninformed if you think that an opposition is not allowed to exist in Venezuela. The opposition currently holds nearly 40% of the seats in the National Assembly (65 out of 165)! Although he is still lagging behind in the polls, the opposition candidate Capriles believes he can defeat Chavez in this year’s presidential election. The truth is that, when they weren’t conspiring to overthrow democracy, the Venezuelan opposition has participated in every election (there have been many) except for the one they boycotted: if the opposition lacked political power the reason is simply because they have been defeated in free and fair elections.
What’s the govenment’s opinion? That RCTV participated in the coup attempt? Is there not a historical record of this participation? Is there such a thing as factual truth? Or are there only different opinions? Why should some opinions count more than others? Why are there any restrictions at all on who can broadcast on public airwaves?
In a democracy, the people regulate the public airwaves, and decide to whom to grant broadcasting licenses. No private companies has a permanent claim on them, that’s why they must apply for license renewal and comply with certain regulations, one of them being, do not participate in illegal coups against democratic government!
>press freedom? You link to a "press freedom index", which rates all the countries in the world. United States gets a "14", and Venezuela "55". Does this mean Venezuela has little "press freedom"? These rankings are "questionable". > news stations may  lose their broadcast license if they do not support the government? The link you provide does not support your claim! RCTV did not lose its broadcast license because it "[did] not support the government". Its license was *not renewed* as a result of its *participation in the 2002 coup attempt*. How could free elections exist if news stations were allowed to undermine the country’s democracy?
undemocratic in the stifles political opposition
President Chavez does not “stifle” the political opposition in Venezuela. To “stifle” is to prevent or constrain, to make (one) unable to breathe freely. By this definition, Chavez has done far too little to “stifle” his political opponents, esp. considering that they want to return elite rule to the country! If there is a word to describe these bourgeois opponents, they are surely “unconstrained”. With their enormous wealth and full control over the private media, Venezuelan elites use every resource available to them to undermine the people’s will, and little “prevents” them from conspiring to overthrow the Bolivarian Republic. If these ‘undemocratic’ plots to dispose their elected leader and popular government are thwarted, it is not by Chavez but by el pueblo Bolivariano themselves.
If it’s true this decision had nothing to do with "giving up on free speech", then the same can be said about Venezuela’s 2007 decision not to relicense RCTV. Whereas Britain "REVOKED" Press TV’s license and demanded that it "LEAVE BRITISH AIRWAVES IMMEDIATELY", Venezuela had only DECLINED TO RENEW RCTV’s license when it expired, five years after RCTV gave support to the unconstitutional 2002 coup attempt against the country’s democratically elected government, in a clear violation of Venezuela’s media laws (which make inciting political violence and the overthrow of government illegal). And yet the international news media interpreted Venezuela as violating free speech, and it is now applying a double standard in the case of the UK shutting down Press TV.