Venezuela has criticized a proposal to increase U.S. government broadcasts to the South American nation to counter the influence of President Hugo Chavez.

Venezuelan Information Minister Willian Lara accused the United States Friday of "escalating a media campaign" against Venezuela. Lara also defended his government's decision not to renew the broadcast license of an opposition-aligned television station, Radio Caracas Television (RCTV).

Lawmakers in the U.S. House of Representatives Thursday approved an amendment that would provide $10 million to boost U.S. broadcasts to Venezuela and other parts of Latin America through the Voice of America.

Republican Connie Mack proposed the amendment. Mack said the Chavez government is targeting opposition voices because of their massive reach, appeal and influence throughout Venezuela. He said press freedom died in Venezuela on May 27 with RCTV's shutdown.

President Chavez said he decided to close RCTV because it supported a brief coup against his government in 2002. The station said the government produced no evidence to support the claims against it.

RCTV was replaced with a state-funded channel, Venezuelan Social Television. RCTV continues to report and broadcast news on the Internet.

Some information for this report was provided by AP .