More untold news about TV licence revocations

You better kiss my boots for this, people, I had to go all the way to Cuba to get it.

(Well, all right–to Granma.)

Throughout the world, many countries have adopted sovereign decision to not renew [broadcast] concessions or to allow them to expire. For example:

Peru, in April 2007, decided to shut down two television channels and three radio stations for incompliance with its Radio and Television Law, expired licenses and utilization of non-homologous equipment.

Say, who is the president of Peru? A communist? Nope…Alan Garcia. The “neo-liberal” darling of the newspaper neo-cons.

In Uruguay, December 2006, permits were revoked for radio stations 94.5 FM and Concierto FM, in Montevideo, and a resolution was revoked which had expanded coverage for the broadcast signal of the cable channel Multicanal, part of the Clarín Group of Argentina.

In El Salvador, in July 2003, the concession for the Salvador Network was revoked.

In Canada, June 1999, the Country Music Television’s (CMT) concession was revoked.

What? In CANADA?? My home and native land??? Oh no, that must mean WE are communists, as of June 1999! AAAAAAAAAAAAAA!!!

In the United States, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), in July 1969, revoked the concession for WLBT-TV; in 1981 it did likewise for WLNS-T; in April 1999, it revoked the license of Trinity Broadcasting; and in April 1998, that of Daily Digest (Radio). From 1934 to 1987 in the United States, 141 broadcasters lost their licenses, including 102 for non-renewal. In 40 cases, their licenses were revoked before they were expired. During the ’80s, there were 10 cases of non-renewal.

Oh my god, it’s even worse in the States. Free speech is REALLY under fire there!

In Europe, in July 2004 Spain revoked the concession of TV Laciana (a local cable channel) and in April 2005, it shut down open-signal radio and TV broadcasters in Madrid. In July of the same year, it shut down TV Católica.

Oh, that unspeakable Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero. A communist underneath it all! For SHAME!!!

France revoked the license of TV& in February 1987; in December 2004 it revoked Al Manar’s concession, and in December 2005 it shut down TF 1 for questioning the existence of the Holocaust.

What? No fascist speech allowed? Those crazy Zionist pigs.

Most shocking of all, though, is this:

In England, the government of Margaret Thatcher cancelled the concession of one of the country’s largest TV stations simply for having broadcast news that was not agreeable, although absolutely true. She simply argued that "if they had already had the station for 30 years, why should they have a monopoly?"

This I just had to look into. So I googled, and googled some more, and then some more still, and finally a story emerged:

Death on the Rock was the title of a programme in the current affairs series This Week, made by Thames Television and broadcast on the ITV network on 28 April 1988. The programme investigated the incident, on Sunday 6 March 1988, when three members of the IRA, sent to Gibraltar on an active service mission, were shot and killed by members of British special forces. The incident, and subsequently the programme about it, became controversial as a result of uncertainty and conflicting evidence about the manner in which the killing was carried out and the degree to which it was an “execution” with no attempted arrest. The programme interviewed witnesses who claimed to have heard no prior warning given by the SAS troops and to have seen the shooting as one carried out “in cold blood.” Furthermore, the defence that the IRA team might, if allowed time, have had the capacity to trigger by remote control a car bomb in the main street, was also subject to criticism, including that from an Army bomb disposal expert.

Apparently, Death on the Rock is what so offended Her Iron Ladyship, who was already full of antipathy for the British media, particularly the superb (and unionized) Thames TV channel. And no wonder: that tyrannical old milk-snatcher had a lot to hide. The documentary’s finding that Thatcher’s Tory government was behind a brutal summary execution of three IRA members in Gibraltar was the final straw for La Thatcher. Apparently, that fabled sense of British fair play demands that even the most feared and hated terrorists of the day be granted at least the due process of an arrest and a trial. Thatcher herself didn’t think so, which I guess puts her in the same league of extraordinary renditioners as BushCo (Gitmo, torture taxis and secret prisons, anyone?)

Furthermore, Her Iron Ladyship expected the media to self-censor, particularly anything which might put the government in a bad light:

Any assessment of the Death on the Rock affair has to note a number of constituent factors. The hugely emotive and politically controversial issue of British military presence in Northern Ireland provides the backdrop. For much of the British public, the various bombing attacks of the IRA (many of them involving civilian casualties), seemed to give the incident in Gibraltar the character of a wartime event, whose legitimacy was unquestionable. At a more focused level, the Windlesham/Rampton report opened up, in unusual detail, on the narrative structure of current affairs exposition–its movement between interview and presenter commentary, its use of location material, its movements of evaluation. It also probed further back, into the way in which the programme was put together through the contacting of various witnesses and the investigations of researchers. This was set in the context of long-standing tension between the Conservative government and broadcasters, particularly investigative journalists, on the matter of “national interest” and on the “limits” which should be imposed (preferably self-imposed) on work which brought into question the activities of the state.

Emphasis added.

What Thatcher demanded of the media is a cardinal sin of investigative journalism–toadying to the authorities on the basis of “national interest” is a sure sign of an unfree press. Especially when something so explosive, so potentially nationally damaging, is being covered rather than corrected.

It’s worth noting that fascism makes the same kind of demands on the media–claiming it is “in the interests of the state” to not broadcast the truth if the truth proves inconvenient, embarrassing or, as here, potentially incriminating to a head of state. (See #s 6, 7, 9, 10 and 12 of Dr. Lawrence Britt’s “Defining Characteristics of Fascism”–they certainly seem applicable to Thatcherite Britain in my view, and to the way Thatcher lashed back at the BBC and Thames TV in particular.)

But lest anyone think that RCTV is in the same league as Thames TV and the Beeb, shove that thought right back up your ass and sit on it. This channel did not incriminate Hugo Chavez in any way, and neither did it merely embarrass or offend him. It trampled not on the state, but on the rights of the people. Which puts it in a league with Maggie Thatcher, who would no doubt have approved of its self-censorship in the immediate aftermath of the April 11 coup. “Cero chavismo en pantalla” (no Chavez-anything on screen) was Marcel Granier’s policy. The official line was that the coup had restored Venezuela to “normality”, which is a bad joke in light of what pre-Chavez “normality” actually entailed:

“Demonstrations in Two Times”. This is a VTV documentary comparing the track record of Chavez to that of his predecessors, particularly regarding student protests. It puts the lie to the notion, commonly advanced in the Venezuelan commercial media, that the 40 years of Pu
nto Fijo were peaceful and democratic. The “democracy” was false, characterized by vote rigging and widespread corruption; the “peace” was downright illusory when you consider the track records of the following presidents:

Romulo Betancourt, Accion Democratica (AD) party, 1959-64: Raids at Universidad Central de Venezuela (UCV). Violent repression of high-school and university students. Motto: “Shoot first, ask questions later.” Venezuela went for three years without constitutional guarantees of human rights.

Raul Leoni, AD, 1964-69: Another raid at UCV, this time in 1966. Constitutionally guaranteed rights suspended in 1967.

Rafael Caldera, COPEI, 1969-74: Another series of raids at UCV, this one lasting a year. The university rector was dismissed. The Botanical Garden was seized and student residences shut down. In 1969-70, murders, persecutions, tortures and disappearances of hundreds of students, workers and peasants.

Jaime Lusinchi, AD, 1984-89: Creation of the special commando unit CEJAP, one of whose first chiefs was the notorious Henry Lopez Sisco. The next five years were characterized by almost-weekly confrontations between UCV students and police. In 1987, the murder of a student at the University of Los Andes (ULA) resulted in riots in which 70 students were injured, plus arrests and raids. The city of Merida was militarized.

Carlos Andres Perez, AD, 1989-92: The Caracazo of February 27, 1989. Students initiated protests over the sudden rise in bus fares. An estimated 3,000 deaths occurred during the police crackdown that followed. 1993: Journalist Maria Veronica Tessari injured in riots between students and police. She died five months later.

Rafael Caldera, COPEI, 1993-99: More police repression, especially on student protests against the privatization of the massive government steelworks, SIDOR, in line with the “neoliberal” policies beginning under Perez and continuing under Caldera.

Compare that, now, with the constitutional guarantees of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela under Hugo Chavez, 1999-present:

ARTICLE 68: Citizens have the right to demonstrate peacefully and unarmed, with no other requirements other than those established by law. Use of firearms and toxic substances by police to control peaceful demonstrations is prohibited. The law shall regulate all police and security actions in the control of public order.

The documentary goes on to show that the article in question was violated–not by police in the name of controlling the student demonstration, but by the students protesting the non-renewal of RCTV’s licence. You can clearly see objects flying out of the crowd toward the police, and an injured officer being carried away by his comrades.

If that were happening anywhere but Venezuela, and the perpetrators were anyone but RCTV supporters, that would be headline news internationally–“Rioters attack cops!” Instead, it’s buried…except for people like me, who like to dig up the bones the media would rather leave alone.

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