Human rights organization says Venezuelan presidential TV and radio broadcasts create "continued censorship"

By Isabela Fraga

Between 1999, when Hugo Chávez first became President of Venezuela, and June 2012, the country's television and radio stations have been forced to broadcast 2,334 president speeches, amounting to a total of 97,561 minutes of broadcasting, which makes an average of 42 minutes per transmission every two days. The human rights organization Espacio Público considered this a form of "continued censorship," reported the newspaper El Universal.

In a report released on Thursday, July 26, Espacio Público said that frequent broadcasting of Chavéz's speeches created "freedom of expression restrictions for those sending the messages and, at the same time, restrictions on the rights of those receiving them."

The report made reference to the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR), whose norms say that information broadcast by the president should be of "strict necessity for attending to urgent information needs in clear and legitimate cases of public interest."

According Espacio Público's report, the time used by the Venezuelan president in TV and radio transmissions increases during election years: during the first semester of 2012, Chávez accumulated an average of 74 minutes of transmission, 14 times a month, reported the newspaper La Verdad.

Note from the editor: This story was originally published by the Knight Center’s blog Journalism in the Americas, the predecessor of LatAm Journalism Review.