Venezuela's oldest private television station has been taken off the air as thousands banged on pots and pans in protest against their president's decision not to renew the channel's free-to-air licence.
Radio Caracas Television (RCTV) went off air at midnight on Sunday as Hugo Chavez's supporters held a night-to-dawn party outside its studios.
RCTV screens went black after the station broadcast previously recorded images of its employees singing the national anthem.
The network, which has been on the air for 53 years and the country's sole opposition-led channel, will be replaced by a public service broadcaster, dubbed TVes.
Chavez has called the new TV channel "socialist television".
The action against the network sparked protests over the weekend.
Using water cannons, police dispersed thousands of stone-throwing protesters outside Venezuela's telecom authority, the body which ordered RCTV off air.
Chavez's political opponents champion RCTV as an opposition voice, and criticise his refusal to renew its broadcast licence.
Venezuela's supreme court ruled that RCTV must temporarily leave its equipment and broadcast infrastructure in military hands to ensure that TVes can provide quality service.
Marcel Granier, the president of RCTV, called the decision "an unconstitutional seizure of our equipment".
Station managers have asked its 3,000 employees to remain in the studios overnight and to be ready for work on Monday - possibly to hinder the handover.
Last Mod: 28 Mayıs 2007, 14:27