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Venezuelan TV Station Ordered to Hand Over Equipment to Government


The Venezuelan Supreme Court has ordered a private television station to surrender its transmission equipment to the government, which is shutting the station down.

The court also ordered the Venezuelan military to guard the equipment of Radio Caracas Television as part of a ruling issued Friday. RCTV, Venezuela's oldest private broadcaster and a frequent critic of President Hugo Chavez, will go off the air Sunday. Officials say its license was canceled because it supported an unsuccessful coup against Mr. Chavez in 2002.

The high court has rejected the station's request to stay on the air during an appeal of the government's decision. National Guard units have been deployed in the capital of Caracas ahead of expected demonstrations. The government says a new public-service channel will take up RCTV's frequencies Monday.

RCTV is one of Venezuela's most popular broadcasters. Reporters in Caracas have said a large majority of the population opposes its closure.

The U.S. Senate passed a unanimous resolution Friday condemning Mr. Chavez and his government for what the Senate called "an assault against freedom of thought and expression [that] can not be accepted by democratic countries."

Similar reaction came from many news media organizations across Latin America.

Some information for this report was provided by AP and Reuters.

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