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Possible takeover of Catalan public media condemned by journalistic organizations

Media organizations across Catalonia and Spain, as well as further afield, have joined in the attack on Spain's decicision

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23 October 2017 06:59 PM

by

ACN | Barcelona

Various journalistic organizations have spoken up, in the form of official statements and articles, to denounce the possible application of Article 155 of the Spanish constitution.The Spanish government's decision on Saturday to apply this includes the possibility of taking control of the Catalan public media. The main outlets to be affected would be the radio Catalunya Ràdio, television TV3, and news agency Agencia Catalana de Noticias.

Catalan Association of Journalists “strongly condemns the intervention”

The Catalan Association of Journalists also released a statement the very day that Article 155 was proposed by the Spanish president, on Saturday October 21. In it, it writes that “it strongly condemns the intervention” of public media including TV3, Catalunya Ràdio, and the ACN news agency, and describes it as “an unprecedented attack on freedom of expression and information.” The organization defines itself as a “public law corporation that gathers more than 4,000 professionals.”

They further define this offensive as a “direct attack on democracy and freedom of expression,” which they note is a “fundamental right enshrined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.” They further state that the intervention in public media is “a violation of the right to information” which they say is a “basic pillar for democracy.” Lastly, the organization also “recognizes the professional work” of the media in question and note their solidarity to them.

The Ramon Barnils Journalist group has also expressed its support for the employees of TV3, Catalunya Ràdio, and CNA. They recall that they are an instrument that has "decisively" contributed to social cohesion in Catalonia.

The workers of CNA have also made it clear that they are opposed to “any attempt to put the agency at the disposal of a distorted message.”

Spanish Public Radio underscores the “paradox”

The outcry is also being heard from outside of Catalonia. The Newscast Committees of Spanish Public Radio and Television (RTVE) released a statement on October 23 in solidarity with their Catalan counterparts. In it, they note the “paradox presented by the takeover” and ask the Spanish government for “consistency.” Indeed, they point out that “RTVE itself does not fulfil this mandate” and state that “it would be reasonable” to “apply the same policy in all public media outlets,” they wrote, adding that this includes that of Spain. They finish their communiqué by declaring that “public media should serve citizens, never the governments. No government.”

The European Federation of Journalists have also condemned the possible takeover of Catalan media by the Spanish government.

We are all Catalunya Ràdio

The hashtags #DefensemCatRàdio #DefensemTv3 #DefensemACN, calling to defend the three Catalan public media organizations, as well as #TotsSomCatRàdio (“We are all Catalunya Ràdio”) have surfaced. This, in addition to Catalunya Radio’s workers committee, an organization dedicated to “the defense of Catalonia’s national radio” which has strongly condemned the Spain’s proposed plan to take over Catalan media.

“Defending freedom of expression”

The Federation of Services, Mobility and Consumption of the UGT of Catalonia has shown its support and solidarity with the employees of the Catalan Broadcasting Corporation (TV3 and Catalunya Ràdio) and the Catalan News Agency (ACN) following the announcement that if Article 155 is implemented, the Spanish government will intervene in Catalan public media as one of the measures included in the application of said legislation. The union considers it “intolerable” that the Spanish government wants to impose its control over the Catalan public media, adding that it will continue “defending freedom of expression, the fundamental right of democracy, as well as respect for quality, independent, and plural public media.”

The professional council of TV3 has called the Spain’s decision a “direct attack, indignant and impudent to the freedom of expression, information and the press, and the professionalism of their workers” rejecting the justification of applying article 155.

"TV3 and Catalunya Ràdio belong to all Catalans; they have contributed and contribute to reviving, keeping alive and cultivating the Catalan language and culture,” the professional commission said. “They have been and are elements of integration, and form the media most valued by the citizens of Catalonia. In short, they are a heritage that we will not to be taken from us.”

Catalan Broadcasting Corporation

Several former directors of the Catalan Broadcasting Corporation (CCMA, including TV3 and Catalunya Ràdio) have spoken in defense of the “neutrality” of TV3 and Catalunya Ràdio, saying that they do not agree with the Spanish government questioning the plurality of Catalan public media. The former Director of TV3, Jaume Ferrús, said that the announcement of the possible application of Article 155 and its consequent impact on the CCMA is “absolutely ineffective” and that it only serve to say “that they are in command.” The president of the CCMA between 2008 and 2010, Albert Sáez, underscored that the problem of the application of the article is the “great ignorance” that it’s based on. The general director of the CCMA from 2004 to 2008, Joan Majó, stated that the measure proposed by the Spanish government is an “enormous” political error.

Accurate, objective, and balanced information

According to the document explaining the details of the legislation, the Spanish government taking control of Catalan public media would be to “guarantee accurate, objective and balanced information.” On Saturday October 21, the Spanish president Mariano Rajoy appeared on television to announce that the Spanish government is officially taking Article 155 to the senate. If ratified, the constitutional article would stipulate seizing Catalonia’s self-government. In terms of public media, the document detailing the extent of the takeover states that this is to “guarantee political pluralism, social, cultural, and territorial balance” of the Catalan public media along with “respect for the Spanish Constitution’s principles and values.”

The proposed measures state that media officials can be dismissed or “temporarily replaced.” According to Spanish president Mariano Rajoy, “the responsibilities of managing the Catalan public media will pass to new administrators.” 

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  • Members of the Catalunya Radio team earlier this year (by ACN)