Catia TV in Caracas, a community television station that is not merely at the service of the community but, rather, is directed by the local people, has just been closed in a maneuver more often seen under the old military dictatorships: The orders came from the current Metropolitan Mayor of Caracas, Venezuela (and an ex-"journalist"): Alfredo Peña, supporter of the attempted coup d’etat of April 2002 that Catia TV, among others, defeated.
Catia TV brings a very different form of television to (and from) the public than that of the Commercial stations. The programs, interviews, the operation of the equipment, the editing, and the organization of this Community Media outlet – that broadcasts from the poor neighborhoods in East Caracas – is constructed by the men, women, elders, and children. who live there... all the people, mobilizing daily. That’s why it was shut down: to silence the voices that Catia TV made strong. The transmitter and other equipment have been seized. More...
Read more at The Narco News Bulletin. Also, see coverage at Aporrea.org (in Spanish) and Vheadline.com
The following alert comes from supporters of the Venezuelan community media:
HELP DEFEND FREEDOM OF SPEECH IN VENEZUELA
A television station has just been shut down in Caracas. Not one of Venezuela's quasi-monopolistic commercial stations that is virulently opposed to President Chavez's reforms. The media outlet that has been gagged is one of the country’s main community television stations. And it’s not President Chavez who’s preventing it from broadcasting. It's one of his fiercest opponents, the ex-journalist and mayor of greater Caracas Alfredo Peña.
Peña’s confiscation of Catia Tve's transmitter and audiovisual equipment has deprived the poor communities of Western Caracas of their right to receive independent information. It is a measure that is eerily reminiscent of what took place during the April 2002 coup d’Etat when a group of reactionary military officers briefly kidnapped democratically-elected President Hugo Chavez.
During the April coup the community media outlets were invaded and some community media journalists were arrested and tortured with the hope that the commercial TV channels, who were decisive players in the coup, could fully monopolize the airwaves. This repression, however, didn't prevent the community media journalists from continuing, at the risk of their lives, to inform their communities and the outside world about what was really happening in Venezuela.
Today, angry citizens have taken to the streets in Caracas to demand the reopening of Catia Tve, a community television station legalized in 2002 thanks to a new set of regulations that are internationally recognized as a major democratic advance in terms of freedom of speech. These regulations grant communities radio and television frequencies that are renewable every five years and allows them to produce programs that are free of the influence of any economic or political power.
Recently, the Canadian social justice activist Naomi Klein expressed her dismay at seeing that certain Human Rights NGOs like Reporters Without Borders spend their time blaming the Chavez government for being a threat to freedom of speech while failing to report that the elite-owned commercial media wage campaigns of intimidation and denigration aimed at alternative and community media. Campaigns that have coincided with physical attacks and media outlet closures, such as the one Catia Tve has just undergone.
Signed: the National Network of Venezuelan Community Media (RNMCV), ATTAC-Venezuela, the National Association of Free, Alternative and Community Media (ANMCLA).
PLEASE TAKE ACTION NOW:
Write to demand that the ex-journalist and current mayor of greater Caracas Alfredo Peña stop preventing Catia Tve from broadcasting and allow this community media outlet to continue to pursue its job of informing the community. Write to him at the following e-mail address: firstname.lastname@example.org
and send a copy to: email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org