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Venezuelan Cable Operators Suspend Four Stations for Not Complying with Laws

Twenty Other National Cable Stations Remain in Operation

Cable operators registered in the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela temporarily suspended transmission of four channels on Saturday, January 23 for not complying with state laws. The four channels were classified as National Audiovisual Producers.

The cable operators -- Intercable, DirecTV and NetUno -- displayed messages on the four suspended channels, American Network, America TV, Radio Caracas Television and TV Chile, requesting that they immediately comply with local laws "with the end of re-establishing their service on our list of programming." 

On Sunday, January 24 the associations representing cable television operators in Venezuela published a statement with similar requests for the suspended channels. The statement was signed by the Venezuelan Chamber of Television by Subscription (CAVETESU in Spanish), the Association of Telecommunications Operators (ASOTEL in Spanish), the Association of Cable Television (ACATEL in Spanish) and the Venezuelan Chamber of Telecommunications (CAVETEL in Spanish).

On Thursday, January 21, CONATEL -- Venezuela's regulatory equivalent of the Federal Communications Commission in the U.S. -- published an announcement listing which of the audiovisual producers, which currently broadcast their programming through television by subscription services, were defined by law as National Audiovisual Producers.

This measure responded to the first transitional provision of the Technical Norms on National Audiovisual Production Services, published in the Federal Register of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela No. 39.333 on December 22, 2009.
 CONATEL's announcement stated that of the audiovisual producers that submitted the documentation according to the technical norms, 24 were classified as National Audiovisual Producers while 164 were not.

Article 3 of the technical norms state that "services of national audiovisual production are defined as those channels whose reception and/or broadcasting of images and audio occur within the territory of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela and through the network of a subcription service provider enabled by the National Commission of Telecommunications."  The only channels exempted are those whose total weekly programming includes more than 70% programming, publicity or advertisements that is not of national origin.

The Law of Social Responsibility in Television and Radio establishes that those national channels must broadcast the National Anthem, broadcast programming according to designated ratings and times and broadcast official acts, messages and transmissions, amongst other norms.
On Saturday evening, the president of CONATEL, Diosdado Cabello, requested that cable operators help comply with Article 13 of the Social Responsibility Law, which requires that those channels defined as National Audiovisual Producers to follow Venezuelan laws.

Cabello expressed that on Friday only a small number of channels classified as National Audiovidual Producers were not in compliance with local laws and were called by Conatel. On Saturday most had entered into complied with the Law, but some, according to Cabello, still "did not want to comply." Therefore, Cabello noted that Conatel is not being arbitrary, but rather "it is a matter of complying with the law."

Embassy of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela Press and Communications Office/ January 24th, 2010

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