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U.N. laments Venezuela media cuts

Aug. 12, 2009 at 4:13 PM
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CARACAS, Venezuela, Aug. 12 (UPI) -- The revocation of media outlet licenses by Venezuela's leftist government is worrisome, the head of a U.N. agency said Wednesday.

Koichiro Matsuura, director general of the U.N. Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization, lamented the July revocation of 34 radio and television station licenses and the potential for 285 more licenses to be yanked by President Hugo Chavez's administration.

"I am deeply concerned over the reduction in the number of outlets through which citizens can exercise their right to receive information from diverse sources," Matsuura said in a release. "The people of Venezuela have the right to benefit from a diversity of perspectives in reports and analyses of events that concern them."

Limiting the number of media outlets is a threat to freedom of expression and democracy, he said.

The broadcasters that lost or are in danger of losing their licenses allegedly broke Venezuela's telecommunication law.

Last month, Chavez said his intent is to shift communications 'hegemony' away from private interests to the people. His chain of pro-government media outlets has grown to 238 local radio stations and he indicated revoked licenses will be reallocated to more Community Radio outlets.

"If we recover I don't know how many stations, it won't be to give them back to the bourgeoisie," Chavez said. "No, no. We have to create popular radio for the people."

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