Venezuela court freezes anti-Chavez TV station assets


Supporters of Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez attend a massive rally after he registered his candidacy for the upcoming presidential election.

Venezuela’s Supreme Court has frozen $5.7 million in assets belonging to 24-hour news network Globovision, which has taken a critical line against President Hugo Chavez and accused the government in Caracas of trying to intimidate it ahead of the beginning of canvassing for October’s presidential election.

According to the BBC, Globovision is the only anti-Chavez station still broadcasting in Venezuela, and has been challenging a $2.1 million fine slapped on it by media regulator Conatel over its coverage of a June 2011 uprising at the El Rodeo prison outside the capital, in which more than 20 people were killed.

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Conatel accused Globovision’s coverage of “promoting hatred and intolerance for political reasons,” but the network’s vice-president Maria Fernanda Flores said “this decision doesn’t surprise us because we are about to begin an election campaign in which the government tends to take judicial actions to intimidate the independent private media,” the BBC reported.

According to the Associated Press, a lawyer for Globovision, Ricardo Antela, said the news channel now plans to pay the original fine to avoid a bigger penalty that could to the station being shut down. Venezuela’s election campaign begins on Sunday, with Chavez campaigning for a third term in the October 7 polls.

According to GlobalPost, Venezuela does not have a law requiring impartiality in public broadcasting. The issue has rankled the opposition, who say that because state media – which has expanded dramatically since Chavez became president in 1999 – is funded by a combination of sovereign oil and money from taxpayers, it ought to reflect a diversity of political opinions. 

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