[an error occurred while processing this directive]
BBC News
watch One-Minute World News
Last Updated: Thursday, 25 November, 2004, 10:36 GMT
Concern over Venezuela media law
By Iain Bruce
BBC News, Caracas

Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez
Critics accuse Hugo Chavez of trying to control the media
Venezuela has passed a controversial media law condemned by the opposition and a human rights group for threatening freedom of expression.

Discussion of the law has dominated political debate in recent months.

The government of President Hugo Chavez says the law will improve the quality of Venezuelan television and open up access to the media.

Media outlets will face heavy fines or even closure if they do not follow the rules.

After six weeks of debate and a marathon final two day session, the government majority in Venezuela's parliament finally got what it wanted: a new law that it says will encourage higher standards in broadcasting, protect children from inappropriate sex and violence and democratise access to the airways.

Domestic production

The opposition, which controls most of Venezuela's private media, insists the new law on "Social Responsibility in TV and Radio" is aimed at silencing them.

They point to the possible suspension of licences for those who broadcast messages that promote the disruption of public order.

Their concerns were echoed on Wednesday by Human Rights Watch, which repeated earlier warnings that the legislation could seriously threaten freedom of expression.

Government supporters, however, have argued that the owners of Venezuela's private media are more worried by the law's provision that a portion of all programming must be made in Venezuela, and that some of this must be produced independently.

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites


News Front Page | Africa | Americas | Asia-Pacific | Europe | Middle East | South Asia
UK | Business | Entertainment | Science/Nature | Technology | Health
Have Your Say | In Pictures | Week at a Glance | Country Profiles | In Depth | Programmes
Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific