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Venezuela Calls for Investigation of Second Private TV Station


Venezuela's government has accused an opposition television station of using subliminal messages to incite an assassination attempt against President Hugo Chavez, hours after taking another television station off the air.

Venezuela's Information Minister William Lara announced Monday an investigation into the private broadcaster Globovision. He said the station had encouraged an attempt on Chavez's life by broadcasting the chorus of a salsa tune, along with footage of the 1981 assassination attempt against Pope John Paul.

Globovision's Director Alberto Federico Ravell has denied any wrongdoing and called the allegations ridiculous.

Meanwhile, protests continued Tuesday in Caracas over the closure of the openly anti-government Radio Caracas Television network. The government refused to renew the station's license.

Thousands of demonstrators gathered Monday to protest President Hugo Chavez's decision to force RCTV off the air, replacing it with a new state-funded channel, Venezuelan Social Television.

President Chavez says the new station will help democratize the media and enhance freedom of speech.

Critics argue that Chavez is increasing state control over the airwaves. Human Rights Watch and Reporters without Borders have criticized the refusal to renew RCTV's license, calling it a blatant effort to silence criticism.

Venezuela's information minister also accused CNN of conducting a smear campaign against Venezuela, saying the U.S.-based cable news network had juxtaposed images of Chavez and an alleged al-Qaida leader as part of an attempt to associate Chavez with terrorism.

Some information for this report was provided by AFP.