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Legal specifics

KARINA ARTEAGA CIFRA
eluniversal.com

Both private TV channel Radio Caracas Televisión and the government predicate legal grounds to substantiate their approaches.

Below is a summary of the provisions and statements referred to by either party.

Expiration date of the broadcast license

- The government argues that decree 1,577, dated May 27th, 1987, issued by then President Jaime Lusinchi, granted RCTV a broadcast license for 20 years. Therefore, the instrument expires on May 27th, 2007.

- Radio Caracas Televisión applies article 210 of the Telecommunications Law, on turning of licenses effective as of 2001 into administrative authorizations, to claim that the term of the license is not over.

- The government dismissed the interpretation of article 210 of the Telecommunications Law. It understands that, rather than a procedure to renew the signal in 2001, the National Telecommunications Commission (Conatel) had a census of broadcasters.

- RCTV argues that Conatel failure to issue the administrative authorization by June 12th, 2002, resulted in automatic renewal. In accordance with article 210 of the Telecommunications Law, "while the abovementioned adjustment is made, any and all rights and duties acquired under the previous regulations will remain in full effect, under the same terms and upon the same conditions established in the respective licenses and permits."

- The government is positive that renewal of broadcast licenses is not automatic. Hence the term "license" with the state being empowered to renew it or not.

- Since the broadcast license for RCTV points to automatic renewal for 20 years and every legal requirement was met in 2001 for the authorization, the channel estimates that the license should expire on June 12th, 2022.

Presumed RCTV involvement in a coup attempt

- The government is certain that channel 2 put the state in jeopardy in April 2002, and charged it with taking part in an alleged plan to overthrow President Hugo Chávez.

- President Chávez reasoned in this way on December 28th, 2006, when he announced the end of the broadcast license for RCTV. "You'd better pack your things and think about what you are going to do as from May. There will not be a new license for this coupster channel that used to be called Radio Caracas Televisión! The decision has been drafted already. No media outlet at the service of coup attempts, against the people, against the nation, against the Republic dignity will be tolerated here! Respect for Venezuela!"
 
- RCTV has not faced any trial at any courthouse to find the RCTV involvement in the events linked with the alleged coup attempt. Therefore, the channel considers that the government decision not to renew the broadcast license is purely political and in retaliation for its editorial stance.

Human rights abuses due to non-renewal of the broadcast license

- Channel 2, its employees and users argue violation of human rights, including freedom of expression, personal integrity, legal rights and protection, pursuant to articles 13, 5, 8 and 25 of the American Convention on Human Rights, current domestic regulations and one of the treaties on human rights initialed and countersigned by the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela.

- The government vows full provision of freedom of expression and stresses that there is a wide variety of private TV channels and radio stations operating in Venezuela. It has noted that the open signal to be left by the non-renewal of the broadcast license for RCTV will be used to implement a much, more open communication and democratic model.

Translated by Conchita Delgado
cdelgado@eluniversal.com



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