Having activated Article 155 of the Spanish Constitution on Saturday October 21st, suspending Catalonia’s autonomy, Madrid now wants to place the Catalan public broadcasters under state supervision, including the television channel TV3.
This measure would allow the Madrid government to put new leaders in place at TV3 and dismiss those currently in office. In a 20-page press release published Saturday, prime minister Mariano Rajoy sets out the terms of this takeover and makes it clear there will be sanctions if anyone disobeys the channel’s new bosses.
TV3 employees have in return announced their intention “not to recognize Madrid’s authority” over Catalan public media. They signed a manifesto published on the evening of Monday, October 23rd reaffirming their rejection of Article 155, and denouncing “the will of the Spanish Government to control the Government of Catalonia […], threatening the citizen’s right to information by forcefully intervening in Catalan public media.”
The editorial staff of RTVE (Spanish public television) and several journalists’ associations have shown their solidarity with their TV3 colleagues by also publishing a press release in which they ask the Madrid Government for “coherence”, underlining “the paradox of wanting to control TV3 to ensure truthful, objective and impartial broadcasting of information, respectful of political pluralism, while at the same time not respecting this requirement at RTVE.”
Since the intensification of the crisis between Madrid and Catalonia, the central government has accused the Catalan public broadcasters of spreading pro-independence propaganda. Mariano Rajoy criticized TV3 for partisan coverage of the October 1st referendum on Catalan independence.
TV3 currently employs 2,000 staff with an annual budget of €300 million and is the most watched channel in Catalonia, with an average audience share of 11% (25% for news programmes).
As well as TV3, the Madrid Government wants to put the other media controlled by the Generalitat de Catalunya under its supervision, namely 4 themed television channels, 4 radio channels including Catalunya Radio, and the ACN news agency. The Senate, where Mariano Rajoy’s party has a majority, validated the takeover on Friday, October 27th.
Sources: El Confidencial, Ara Info, Arrêt sur images, France Inter, RTBF, Le Monde