Huge fine for Venezuela opposition channel Globovision

A National Guard general, Antonio Benavidez (left), near sitting inmates in the El Rodeo jail (17 June 2011) The disturbances at El Rodeo jail earlier this year left more than 20 people dead

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Venezuelan opposition TV channel Globovision has been fined $2.1m (£1.3m) for its coverage of a prison riot earlier this year.

Media regulator Conatel said it was being punished for justifying crime and fuelling public anxiety.

Globovision says the fine is "unpayable" and has accused the government of trying to shut it down.

President Hugo Chavez has previously accused the channel of supporting a coup attempt against him.

Conatel said Globovision had broken broadcasting regulations in its coverage of disturbances in the El Rodeo prison outside Caracas in June, in which more than 20 people were killed.

Conatel director general Pedro Maldonado said the channel was being fined for its "editorial conduct," which had "promoted hatred and intolerance for political reasons".

Media conflict

Globovision said it would appeal against the fine and do everything it could to stay on air.

"This fine represents the economic breaking of Globovision," the channel's vice-president, Maria Fernandez Flores said.

"For years the government has tried to break us morally," she added.

The fine is the latest development in a long conflict between the government and Globovision, which has been very critical of President Chavez.

Several other private radio and television stations have been forced off air for failing to comply with regulations requiring them to broadcast government information.

Venezuela's opposition has frequently accused Mr Chavez's government of trying to gag the media.

The government has frequently accused private media companies of using their power to try to undermine the democratic authorities.

Mr Chavez has accused Globovision of supporting a 2002 coup attempt and of plotting to assassinate him.

State-owned media has expanded dramatically since Mr Chavez took office in 1999.

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