Friday, May 25, 2007

So, when was the last time that Sweden shut down a media network?

Oh boy! Chavistas will have to put their foot in their mouth one more time and this time forever (I will make sure of that). The cause? Well, the position of Chavismo and freedom of speech.

As Quico points out very explicitly in his last post, there have been countless of occasions in which Chavistas officials, defending their "Chavez-is-not-a-dictator" motto have said that he has never closed down a media network. That was the irrefutable proof that their government was in fact, a democratic, tolerant one!

Uh-uhmm, OK. Well, apparently, after this Sunday, Chavez will be the first "democratically elected" president of Venezuela who in fact will shut down such an important media station like RCTV. Not only that, but the rumor is that the government will soon expropriate their assets after the closing down, including antennas and all those nice gadgets needed to transmit.

But, what amazes me the most is that when talking about this close on blog, forums, etc, I have heard a number of times the apology from Chavistas, that in fact, this is nothing political, and that the state have the rights to do it so because of this, that, and the other, just like many other democratic countries can, like Sweden, for example. OK, very well... now, when I ask these people when was the last time a democratic government, like Sweden who apparently has indeed this prerogative in their laws, has shut down a media channel I never get an answer. Could it be because democratic governments don't do that? Could it be that because when a media network gets in some type of non-political problem with the government it is always a fine, not a closing down? Could it be that the "Ley Resorte" didn't work as they wanted it to? The closing of a media outlet is always the result of a political maneuver, as Orlando Urdaneta said, just as the robber wants to shut down the light and the telephone before getting inside the house he wants to invade. See? There's nothing else in the case of madman Hugo Chavez against RCTV. It's all about seizing the country.

So, taking in consideration the importance of this matter for the citizens of Venezuela, if any of you apologist of Chavez out there, want to discuss another instance of any democratic country closing a media outlet forever (not fine them), please do it so here, right now.

So far, I have found only one occasion that a broadcast license was terminated on a democratic country, and that is the case of Thames Television, who was part of the license holders of the British Independent channel, or Channel 3, different from the BBC one, who is the government one. Channel 3 had 3 licenses divided into the three largest regions of Britain (London, the Midlands and the North of England) , one of them was Thames Television, who broadcast for London since . It lost it through a silent auction. Indeed, the talk is that the real reason of this TV channel lost of license was ... tic, tic, tic... guess? political of course! (due to a very harsh documentary that was criticizing a British military action against the IRA called "Death on the rock").

"Subsequently, the British Government ordered that ITV broadcasting franchises, which were up for renewal in 1991, be determined by silent auction. The amount Thames Television offered for its franchise was significantly less than the money offered by other companies. However the winners of auctions were not determined by bid sizes alone, but by an unknown combination of programming requirements and value for money. In many cases losers found that they had bid more than the winners, and it was virtually impossible for a bidder to know exactly what they had to do to win a franchise. The process was considered by many at the time to have become opaque and open to political manipulation. Nowadays ITV is no longer run by separate franchises but a single national company, so the auctions no longer continue."

Let's talk about it. I want to hear your lame excuses for shutting down freedom of speech in Venezuela.

Note: If you want to read more on the system on British TV, read here.

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