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Rights groups condemn crackdown on Venezuela TV

Published on NewsOK Modified: January 12, 2013 at 12:47 pm •  Published: January 12, 2013

CARACAS, Venezuela (AP) — Rights groups are condemning an order by Venezuela's broadcast agency for a television channel to stop showing clips that question the legality of postponing President Hugo Chavez's inauguration.

The organizations Human Rights Watch and Reporters Without Borders criticized the government's actions against the country's only staunchly anti-Chavez channel, Globovision.

U.S.-based Human Rights Watch said in a statement on Saturday that the Venezuelan government is attempting to censor critical public discussions and intimidate its critics.

Globovision had been showing clips in which it replayed remarks by Chavez, Vice President Nicolas Maduro, and Venezuela's attorney general.

In them, the channel questioned the constitutionality of putting off the ailing president's scheduled Jan. 10 inauguration for a new term while he remains in Cuba more than a month after undergoing cancer surgery. The opposition had also opposed such a delay, but the Supreme Court ruled that Chavez can be sworn in later on.

The National Telecommunications Council on Wednesday opened an investigation aimed at imposing sanctions against Globovision. Pedro Maldonado, the agency's director, said that the channel had manipulated information and that it's illegal for TV stations to show programming that "generates anxiety in the citizenry or disturbs public order."

It's the eighth such investigation that the regulatory agency has opened against Globovision in recent years. Maldonado said the news channel could face sanctions including being shut down for 72 hours or being fined up to 10 percent of its annual gross income.

Reporters Without Borders called the measures against Globovision excessive.

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