German state-owned TV says Venezuela blocked its Spanish channel

BERLIN (Reuters) - Germany’s state-funded public broadcaster Deutsche Welle said on Sunday that Venezuela’s broadcast authority had blocked its Spanish-language channel from cable networks in the country.

Germany, the United States and most other Western countries consider the 2018 election of Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro illegitimate and have recognised opposition leader Juan Guaido as the company’s interim president. Maduro dismisses Guaido as a U.S. puppet.

DW’s general manager Peter Limbourg urged broadcast authority Conatel to “urgently resume distributing the signal of DW.”

The Venezuelan Ministry of Information, which controls Conatel, had no immediate comment.

A German foreign ministry spokeswoman urged Caracas to allow the Deutsche Welle (DW) broadcasts to continue.

“We expect this regrettable decision to be rapidly reversed,” she said.

DW had launched a 15-minute daily special programme in response to the growing crisis in Venezuela, reporting on its Spanish language channel about developments there and interviewing key officials, including Guaido.

“We will of course do everything we can to keep our viewers and users in Venezuela informed,” Limbourg said in a statement. DW’s programme “Noticias Extra Venezuela” would remain available on its website, he said.

DW cited a tweet from Venezuela’s journalists’ union explaining the order from Conatel, and lauding the work of the German broadcaster for its reporting of the crisis in Venezuela. It carried the hashtag “censorship.”

DW reached 17 million viewers in Latin America each week with its 24-hour programming, the broadcaster said, noting that a video posted on Twitter in which German Chancellor Angela Merkel called for new elections was retrieved 112,000 times.

Reporting by Andrea Shalal; additional reporting by Vivian Sequera in Caracas; Editing by Raissa Kasolowsky