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Radio Caracas Television (RCTV) is a Venezuelan television network headquartered in the Caracas neighborhood of Quinta Crespo. It is sometimes referred to as the Canal de Bárcenas. Owned by Empresas 1BC, RCTV was founded on November 15, 1953 by William H. Phelps. Its radio counterpart is Radio Caracas Radio. RCTV is highly critical of President Hugo Chávez and his government and it has been accused of openly supporting the failed 2002 coup d'état that briefly overthrew Venezuela's democratically elected government.
On May 27, 2007, the Venezuelan government declined to renew RCTV's broadcast license in order to allow its state-sponsored station TVes to operate on RCTV's channel. RCTV had Venezuela's largest viewing audience, with 10 million of Venezuela's 26 million people viewing its shows and telenovelas. RCTV still has the option to operate on satellite and cable, services that reach a small audience in Venezuela. Currently, they have not chosen to broadcast on paid services. Without its public broadcast frequency, RCTV will lose most of its audience.
The Venezuelan government seized RCTV's broadcast equipment, based on a ruling issued by the Supreme Court of Justice (Tribunal Supremo de Justicia or TSJ), which is overwhelmingly composed of Chávez-era appointees. This seizure allowed the broadcasting of the government-controlled TVes throughout Venezuela.
According to an April 2007 poll by the Venezuelan company Datanálisis, 13% of the population agree with the revocation of RCTV's license, while 70% reject the government's decision. A May poll conducted in 15 Venezuelan states with a 4.7% margin of error reported that 83% of the Venezuelan population reject the discontinuation of RCTV, with 74% saying that democracy is at stake.
Several rallies took place, both in favor and against the government's decision. One rally against the decision took place in Caracas on May 21, 2007 with "thousands of protesters."On May 25, university students from the Universidad Católica Andrés Bello, the Universidad Simón Bolívar and the Universidad Central de Venezuela protested against the government's intentions.