Inter-American Court to hear key licensing case

Posted on: 4 Aug 2014

MLDI has filed an intervention in the case of Marcel Granier and others vs. Venezuela, before the Inter-American Court of Human Rights, concerning the denial of a licence to Venezuelan broadcaster Radio Caracas Televisión (RCTV) in 2007.

RCTV was one of Venezuela’s oldest stations and a frequent critic of former President Hugo Chávez’s government. Although the Venezuelan government offered various, often inconsistent, reasons for not renewing RCTV’s licence, an official media campaign and multiple statements by government officials strongly hinted that political differences between RCTV and the Venezuelan Government were behind the decision. Many international organisations, governments and non-profits criticised the actions of the Venezuelan government and the lack of transparency and due process during the decision-making process.  

The case raises the key issue of political interference in broadcast licensing and is the first time the Inter-American Court will rule on this question. Radio and television are an essential source of news and information for millions of people, and ensuring a fair allocation of broadcasting licences is crucial to the proper functioning of democracy. 

MLDI's intervention focuses on the implications of the non-renewal of RCTV’s license for freedom of expression in the country. It explores examples of broadcasting regulations from around that world that give proper deference to the principles of transparency and due process in licensing proceedings. It further discusses precedent from the European Court of Human Rights regarding the importance of media pluralism in a democratic society.

MLDI’s intervention follows an earlier application to the Court by the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights. The Commission concluded that Venezuela’s actions violated RCTV's rights to freedom of expression and due process, and asks the Court to rule on the matter. An oral hearing in this case is scheduled to take place at the end of May.

MLDI is grateful for the assistance of Professor Eduardo Bertoni and the NYU Law Clinic in drafting the petition, which can be downloaded here.