WORLD BRIEFING / VENEZUELA

Times Wire Reports

Some 200 Venezuelans gathered outside a Caracas radio station to protest a decision by President Hugo Chavez's government to revoke 34 broadcast licenses.

The demonstration was held outside CNB 102.3 FM, which cut its over-the-air transmission on orders from the telecommunications regulatory agency and is now transmitting only over the Internet. Station director Zaira Belfort said CNB planned to appeal the order, but she said that the shutdown was probably "only the beginning of the closures of free media in Venezuela."

The chief of the telecommunications agency, Diosdado Cabello, denies that the government is trying to limit freedom of speech or punish political opponents, saying licenses are being revoked only for violating regulations. Cabello said some of the 34 stations failed to update their registrations.

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