Venezuela b'caster returning via pay TV


MEXICO CITY -- Venezuelan broadcaster RCTV is set to reappear on pay TV systems just months after President Hugo Chavez's government shut down the private network for allegedly backing a failed coup.

RCTV chief Marcel Granier told reporters Wednesday that, as of Monday, pay TV systems DirecTV, NetUno, Planet and Intercable will begin carrying the network's programming.

Venezuela's government refused to renew RCTV's broadcast license earlier this year on grounds that the nation's oldest private TV station backed a movement to overthrow Chavez's government in 2002.

On May 27, the government pulled the plug on RCTV, replacing it with public broadcaster TVes. Days before and weeks following the controversial closure, Chavez supporters and police clashed with protesting student groups.

RCTV, which had operated for five decades before the May shutdown, is known mostly for its telenovelas. Since pay TV penetration is relatively low in Venezuela, Granier said RCTV's main priority is resuming transmissions as a free-to-air broadcaster.

Prosecutors in Venezuela also are probing broadcasters CNN and Globovision. Information Minister William Lara recently accused Venezuelan network Globovision of inciting Chavez's assassination.

Additionally, Lara claimed that CNN had aired juxtaposed images of Chavez with an al-Qaida leader, suggesting the president was associated with terrorism.

Globovision and CNN have denied the accusations.

Rights groups have condemned Chavez's decision to silence RCTV. Yet Chavez is standing firm on his decision, saying he made "a sovereign, legitimate decision in which there in no argument."