Four Venezuelan radio stations shut down for operating without a license

The National Commission of Telecommunications (Conatel) closed four radio stations and confiscated their transmission equipment in the state of Monagas, Venezuela, on Friday, March 30, reported the NGO Espacio Público.

Equipment from the stations Caicareña 100.5 FM, Venezuela Olímpica 97.9 FM, Única 104.9 FM, and Líder 100.7 FM was seized because the stations allegedly were operating "without the proper administrative license and without the requirements for such [license]," according to a report by Conatel.

However, one of the radio stations, Caicareña 100.5 FM, belongs to the brother of the governor of Monagas, José Gregorio Briceño, who said that the radio station was invaded by the anti-riot force of the Bolivariana National Guard in a violent act that left several injured, reported the newspaper El Universal. Conatel responded to the accusations saying that four of its employees were assaulted by a mob led by the governor's brother.

At the end of last year, four other stations in Monagas were closed for operating without a proper license. In 2009, Conatel closed many other radio stations for not having proper permits.

In Venezuela, private news media face "systematic" pressure from the government, such as cuts in advertising, the frequent attempts to gain regulatory control over the media, and the suspension of operating licenses.