Monday, August 3, 2009

34 radio stations forced off air in Venezuela
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CARACAS, Venezuela (AP) — Radio hosts hung their heads as their FM station was forced off the airwaves along with 33 other broadcasters targeted by President Hugo Chavez's government in what critics say is a campaign to muzzle his foes.

For the first time in decades, CNB 102.3 FM fell silent over the weekend after Venezuela's telecommunications regulators revoked some of the 34 stations' licenses and refused to renew others.

But CNB challenged the government action within hours by starting to transmit programming over the Internet. Sportscaster Juan Carlos Rutilo told his online listeners: "Today freedom of expression is being restricted. ... Today you have one less option."

Media groups and human rights activists note more than 200 other stations are under investigation for allegedly not being properly licensed and accuse Venezuela's leftist leader of pursuing a widening crackdown to silence dissent.

In a similar step, one of Chavez's leftist allies, Ecuadorean President Rafael Correa, announced Monday that "many" radio and TV frequencies will revert to the state over what he called irregularities in their licenses. He gave no specifics.

This is coming to America. Speak up or loose your freedoms.

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