Anti-Chavez TV Faces Possible 72-Hour Shutdown

A leading television channel aligned with Venezuela's opposition said Monday that it could be shut down amid a new investigation of alleged violations of broadcasting laws.

Globovision TV—the last major channel on Venezuela's regular airwaves strongly critical of President Hugo Chavez—has been formally notified of the investigation by the telecommunications commission.

Ana Cristina Nunez, Globovision's legal adviser, said the channel could soon be shutdown for 72 hours or lose its broadcasting license.

In a statement, the commission said the 24-hour news channel violated broadcasting rules by airing text messages that "allude to violent acts," including a coup attempt against Chavez. Globovision also allegedly sought "promote public protests, which could generate a climate of tension and nervousness in the population," it said.

Opponents accuse Chavez of cracking down on dissent by silencing the media, noting that his government shut down 32 radio stations and two small television stations last month. Diosdado Cabello, president of the telecommunications commission, said last week that another 29 radio stations "will soon leave" the airwaves.

"There's a clear strategy to control the flow of information and restrict criticism," said Carlos Lauria of the New York-based Committee to Protect Journalists. "It's aimed at building a communicational hegemony for the state."

Hundreds of radio stations still broadcast in Venezuela, and many are critical of the government.

But Globovision has been the last remaining staunchly anti-Chavez channel on regular television since 2007, when the government refused to renew the license of RCTV—another opposition-aligned TV station.