The Human Rights Foundation has launched a new project to protect freedom of press in Venezuela and oppose the government censorship of Radio Caracus Television.  Here’s some background on the station:

“Radio Caracas Television (RCTV) was launched on November 15, 1953 and was the third television network to begin operations in Venezuela. From the airing of Venezuela’s first ever television soap opera, (telenovela) Camay, in 1954, to today’s hugely popular comedy show Radio Rochela, RCTV’s programming has always interpreted, reflected, and depicted the customs of contemporary Venezuela and been central to that nation’s idiosyncratic cultural framework.

“Since its founding, RCTV has frequently been at loggerheads with government agencies and the Venezuelan presidency. RCTV’s independence is illustrated by how many presidents in Venezuela have clashed with the network and its executives in the past, over criticism of government inefficiency and corruption.”

Now the government is shutting them down:

“On June 14, 2006, the Venezuelan president declared that he was not going to renew the licenses of certain television stations, particularly those controlled by the ‘oligarchy’ that oppose the government. On January 10, 2007, the president declared that RCTV’s months in operation were numbered and nothing would stop him from not renewing RCTV’s operating license. The license is set to expire on May 27, 2007. (This date is based on the last license issued, which, according to the government, was issued on May 27, 1987. According to Marcel Granier, the president of RCTV, the license is actually not supposed to expire until 2020.)

“RCTV has been broadcasting since 1953 and is one of Venezuela’s oldest and largest independent media companies. Many journalists have been targeted, and silenced, by the Venezuelan government due to their critical commentary of the administration. The president and his supporters accuse RCTV of being both ‘fascist’ and ‘coup-plotters.’

To put that in U.S. terms:

“The Chávez administration shutting RCTV down by removing its license would be the equivalent of the Bush administration ordering CBS to stop broadcasting ‘a morally deplorable, unambiguous act of dictatorial control.’

Check out their website and petition here.