Stiff Fine May Bankrupt Last Anti-Chavez TV Station in Venezuela

A Venezuelan TV station, known as the only anti-President Hugo Chavez channel remaining in the country, was hit Tuesday with a $2.1 million fine for its coverage of a prison riot that became something of an imbroglio for the country’s president, reports.

Globovision, a 24-hour news channel, called the fine “unpayable” and said the sum accounts for 7.5 percent of its gross revenue last year, the report said. Its legal adviser said the fine is the government’s attempt to bankrupt the channel.

The deadly riot occurred last summer at the Rodeo II prison and resulted in a nearly month-long standoff and seven deaths, including four inmates who escaped, the report said.

Pedro Maldonado, the telecommunications regulator in the country, reportedly said the fine is intended to discipline the channel for its “editorial conduct,” and fomenting “the anxiety of the citizenry.”

He reportedly said the channel repeatedly aired emotional interviews with prisoners’ families and added gunshot blasts to the audio during its coverage.

The channel stands by its coverage.