IAPA rejects harassment of private Venezuelan television stations.
Miami (August 13, 2004).- The Inter American Press Association (IAPA) expressed its concern and described inspections last Friday conducted by government communications officials at four private television stations as blatant acts of intimidation only two days before the presidential recall referendum in that country.
The television stations Globovisión, Venevisión, Televen and Radio Caracas Televisión received unexpected visits by officials from the National Telecommunications Commission (CONATEL), citing routine technical inspections that in the past have been used to confiscate station equipment and hamper program broadcasting.
The chairman of the IAPAs Committee on Freedom of the Press and Information, Rafael Molina, stated, It is suspicious that on the eve of the recall referendum, and on the same day as media representatives, including those run by the government, made an agreement with the National Electoral Council to respect communications rules and maintain balanced reporting, this inspection occurs.
Molina, from El Nacional newspaper in the Dominican Republic, added, This action is very negative and infringes upon the transparency of the process that will take place this Sunday.
After rejecting what he called an intimidation tactic, Molina reiterated a request made by an IAPA delegation that visited Venezuela last week during which at meetings with authorities they asked "for safeguards so that during the referendum the media and journalists can do their jobs freely, without restrictions, in a respectful and safe environment, and above all, without any kind of pressure.