Archive for August 1st, 2009

A translation of the proposed “Special Bill Against Media Crimes” (CDM)

August 1, 2009

(Este post en español aquí) (French translation here)

This is a liberal translation of the proposed “Special Bill against Media Crimes”

Art. 1 It is the object of this Bill to prevent and sanction the actions or omissions displayed through the media that may constitute a crime: this with the purpose of obtaining the equilibrium and the harmony among the right of free expression and to opportune, true and impartial information and the right to internal security of the citizens, according to what is contained in the Venezuelan Constitution, its laws and treaties and agreements.

Art. 2 The concept of Media. For the purposes of this Bill media is understood as any media outlet capable of transmitting, divulging or propagating, in stable and periodic fashion, texts, sounds or images destined to the public, whatever the support or instrument used.

Art. 3 The following people may incur in the crimes contemplated of the present Bill

A. The owners and any other person who has a an executive position in media, be it print, television, radio, whether public or private.

B. Independent National Producers, reporters, commentators, speakers, artists and any other person that expresses himself or herself via any media, whether print, television, radio or of any other nature.

Art. 4 Definition of media crimes. Media crimes are made up of the actions and omissions that affect the right for true, opportune and impartial information, which attempt against social peace, the security or independence of the State, the public’s mental health or morals, that generate the feeling of impunity or insecurity and that are made via the media.

Art. 5 Divulging false news. Any person that divulges through the media false news which cause a grave alteration of public peace, panic in the population, or induce anxiety, which has altered public order, that has caused damage to the interests of the State, will be punsihed with prison from two to four years.

The same penalty will be applied to the person in charge of the media through which it was expressed.

Art. 6 Manipulation of the News. Any person that manipulates or distorts the news, generating a false perecption of the facts or creating a matrix of opinion in society, only if this damages social peace, national security, public order, mental health or public morals, will be punished with a prison term from two to four years.

The same penalty will be applied to the person in charge of the media through which it was expressed.

Art. 7. Refusing to reveal information. The Director, manager, editor or person responsible for the media that refuses to reveal the identity of the author of the program or print article published under a pseudonym or in anonymous fashion, when the Prosecutors Office has requested it, will be punished with a prison term of six months to two years.

Art. 8 The owners, Directors or those responsible of media outlets that use them to threaten intimidate, coerce or in any way create fear in others, will be punished with a prison term from one to three years.

Art. 9. Voluntary omission of providing information. The owners or those responsible for media outlets that in a voluntary or unjustified way refuse to inform over facts or situations who by withdrawing the information attempt against the right to information consecrated in the Venezuelan Constitution will be sanctioned with a prison term from two to four years.

Art. 10 Instigation. Anyone who by any media outlet, publishes or transmits material with the purpose of promoting war, violence, or the hate between inhabitants or collectives, by reason of race, sex, religion. nationality, ideology or political militancy will be sanctioned with a prison term from two to four years.

The same penalty will be applied to the person in charge of the media through which it was expressed.

Art. 11 Creating obstacles for the activities of the media. Any person that difficults, or blocks, by coercion, violence, threat, deceit or bribe, the free functioning of any media outlet, whether public or private, affecting the right to true, opportune and impartial information which all citizens have, will be punished with a prison term from one to three years.

Art. 12 Exemption from Responsibility. Those responsible for media outlets will not commit any of the crimes contemplated above for comments made by those people that accidentally participate in live transmissions which include public participation, as long as those making the statements are warned that they could be in violation of the laws.

Those responsible for media outlets will also be exempt from the law with respect to the opinions issued by Deputies of the National Assembly acting as such according to the Venezuelan Constitution.

Art. 13 If a person responsible for a media outlet is condemned through a firm sentence for committing a media crime, he or she will be suspended during the duration of the prison term and will be barred to have an executive position in a different media outlet.

If it were an independent national producer as an additional sanction, his certificate as such will be revoked.

Art. 14 The judge will order that the firm sentence, in a case related to a media crime be published once, paid by the person sentenced, in a preferential location in the Editorial page of a print medium or broadcast at prime time in the media outlet in which the crime was committed, within sevne days after the sentencing. This publication will be made without comments, notes  or any other type of expression.

There are two other transient or technical articles in the proposed Bill.

As Government shuts down 34 radio stations, it accuses the ultra-right of twitter campaign

August 1, 2009

(Este post en español aquí)

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Last night, renewed Chavez henchman Diosdado Cabello, in his campaign to become Chavez’ Raul, shut down the first 34 of a total of 240 radio station which the Government plans to shut down over the next few days. The announcement was not a surprise, henchman Disdado himself had advanced it three weeks ago, but somehow people still have an absurd level of wishful thinking, believing that a fascist and dictatorial Government without scruples would somehow not dare to carry out its threats.

The excuse for the shutdown was a “census” of the country’s radio licenses and the invention of a novel concept, not backed by any legislation, that the death of the owner of a radio concession somehow extinguishes the right of the descendants to inherit the concession Thus, concessions in the hands of families for almost fifty years, where the original owner has been deceased for almost two decades in some cases, were forced to shut down in another dark and sad day in Venezuela’s dying democracy.

Even before the stations had been informed of the shutdown, officials began arriving at the stations as the Minister of Infrastructure Diosdado Cabello announced it as usual on a Friday night, attempting to deflect protests, while the ever present Hugo Chavez was nowhere to be seen in a cowardly attitude which is repeated every time a tough and controversial measure like this one is taken.

As protesters took to the streets, they also began a very loud and intense via social networks, which had its highest levels in twitter, in a country taken over by blackberry fever. And as the noise and intensity grew, the Government began blaming the “ultra-right” for the “mediatic caampaign in Twitter, suggesting that “subversive messages such as a “Promote the twitter CNB (one of the stations shutdown) copy in your messages #freemediave, that way we will give it a high ranking among those talked about in the web”, in reference to #FreeMediave a twitter hashtag created by Venezuelans even before today’s protests as the Government continues imposing new limitations on freedom of speech.

In concluding the article states that twitter has become a new way of creating “terror” as people can obtain real time information but this is “pregnant” with the vices “proper to the Internet, such as the lack of precision, the absence of a source which implies or what confirming the facts implies”

In fact, what Venezuelans who love the Internet did today was propagate the sad truth that Venezuela is certainly a Dictatorship and that freedom of expression is severely threatened by the militaristic and facist Government of Hugo Chavez.

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