- The Washington Times - Saturday, September 5, 2009

CARACAS, Venezuela - Venezuela’s telecommunications chief announced a new probe into a television station opposed to President Hugo Chavez’s government on Saturday, and said 29 broadcasters will soon face closure.

Diosdado Cabello said the most recent investigation into Globovision, the sixth in eight months, was opened because the channel allegedly broadcast a ticker strip of text messages from viewers calling for a coup.

“If you call for a coup d’etat, if you call for an assassination, assume the responsibility,” Cabello said.

Venezuela’s government has increasingly clashed with private media Chavez accuses of conspiring against him. The series of investigations into Globovision, the only fiercely anti-Chavez channel remaining on the open airwaves, could lead to its closure.

Globovision director Alberto Federico Ravell told The Associated Press the announcement “does not surprise us.”

“We live in a state of confusion and anguish, but Minister Diosdado will not scare us with a new threat,” Ravell said.

Cabello added that 29 unspecified broadcasters under investigation by regulators “will soon leave” the airwaves. Since July, regulators have shut down 32 radio stations and two small television stations while opening probes of more than 200 others.

Media groups and human rights activists accuse Chavez’s government of trying to stifle dissent. The government denies it is targeting media for political reasons, saying the stations under investigation have broken broadcasting regulations.

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