Leading voices in Britain call for respect for Venezuelan government's RCTV decision

The letter and a number of its signatories appeared in The Guardian newspaper (26 May).

We believe that the decision of the Venezuelan government not to renew the broadcasting licence of RCTV when it expires on May 27 is legitimate given that RCTV has used its access to the public airwaves to repeatedly call for the overthrow of the democratically elected government of President Hugo Chávez.

RCTV gave vital practical support to the overthrow of Venezuela's elected government in April 2002 in which at least 13 people were killed. In the 47 hours that the coup plotters held power, they overturned much of Venezuela's democratic constitution - closing down the elected national assembly, the Supreme Court and other state institutions.

RCTV exhorted the public to take to the streets and overthrow the government and also colluded with the coup by deliberately misrepresenting what was taking place, and then conducting a news blackout. Its production manager, Andrés Izarra, who opposed the coup, immediately resigned so as not to become an accomplice.

This is not a case of censorship. In Venezuela more than 90% of the media is privately owned and virulently opposed to the Chávez government. RCTV, far from being silenced, is being allowed to continue broadcasting by satellite and cable.

In Venezuela, as in Britain, TV stations must adhere to laws and regulations governing what they can broadcast. Imagine the consequences if the BBC or ITV were found to be part of a coup against the government. Venezuela deserves the same consideration.



  • Tariq Ali,
  • Tony Benn,
  • Colin Burgon MP,
  • Julia Buxton, academic,
  • Ruyuyyah Collector, Black Students' Officer, National Union of Students,
  • Jeremy Corbyn MP,
  • Jon Cruddas MP,
  • Megan Dobney, Regional Secretary, SERTUC
  • Billy Hayes, General Secretary, CWU,
  • Gordon Hutchison, Secretary, Venezuela Information Centre,
  • Kelvin Hopkins MP,
  • Chris Martin, Director, The War on Democracy
  • Joni McDougall, International Solidarity Officer, GMB,
  • Gerry Morrissey, General Secretary, BECTU (Broadcasting Entertainment Cinematograph and Theatre Union)
  • Kaveh Moussavi, Head of the Public Interest Law Programme at University of Oxford's Centre for Socio-Legal Studies.
  • John Pilger,
  • Harold Pinter
  • Professor Jonathan Rosenhead, LSE,
  • Keith Sonnet, Deputy General Secretary, UNISON,
  • Hugh O'Shaughnessy, writer and journalist,
  • Rod Stoneman, Executive Producer, The Revolution Will Not Be Televised,
  • Jon Trickett MP,
  • Gemma Tumelty, President, National Union of Students,
  • Cllr Salma Yaqoob.