Blanca Cia – Barcelona,
April 17, 2021
TV3 building in Sant Joan Despí. ALBERT GARCIA
Workers refuse to be like a “regional ministry” and remember that the law of the election of their governance must be complied with
The pro-independence battle between ERC and Junts to take control of the Generalitat’s public media, especially to appoint the management of TV3 and Catalunya Ràdio, is being waged in open negotiations between the two formations in order to form Government. An expectation that has triggered the alarms of the staff of the two media, who demand what may seem obvious: that the law of the Corporació Catalana de Mitjans Audiovisuals (CCMA), approved in 2019, which stipulated that the management of the the public entity had to be elected by two thirds of the Catalan Parliament and, subsequently, the directors of TV3 and Catalunya Ràdio through public competition between recognized professionals.
“Junts does not want to leave the command of TV3”, points out a connoisseur of the house. A statement confirmed by sources from the leadership of Esquerra Republicana, although they take for granted the role of the current director, Vicent Sanchis, considered akin to the followers of Carles Puigdemont. Despite sharing much of the public TV channel’s editorial line, the sources consulted from ERC consider that the channel cannot continue to be restricted in a pro-independence discourse that often coincides point by point with the strategy of Junts per Catalunya. “There are programs dedicated in full to repeating slogans that come from the environment of Puigdemont and this damages, above all, the channel itself”, they explain. The leaders of Junts, meanwhile, criticize something similar to what happens on public radio, whose director, Saul Gordillo, is of the utmost confidence for the Republican Left.
“We suspect that they want us to be like another ministry, but we refuse, of course”, says a prominent member of the TV3 workers’ council. The unrest has grown in recent weeks as it has become clear that in the negotiations between the two pro-independence parties they have studied names to replace Sanchis and Gordillo. And all this without going through Parliament. “What we are asking for is political responsibility and we demand that the law be complied with”, they add from the Professional Council of Catalan television.
This law, which meant the return to the system of appointments by qualified majority annulled in 2012 by Artur Mas, states that the seven directors of the CCMA – now there are only four and all have expired years ago – must be elected by two-thirds of Parliament on the proposal of at least three parliamentary groups. In other words, ERC and Junts would need the help of a third party to propose names, a requirement that, with the current composition of the Catalan Chamber, points to the PSC. There has already been some movement in this regard: “In fact, both Junts and ERC have already raised the issue, albeit separately. We don’t want to talk about names, but about a model”, points out Alicia Romero, spokesperson for the socialist group in the Parliament.
“This system is intended to put an end to such blatant political marketing”, say union sources who point out that the government’s growing interference has exacerbated the pro-independence bias of the public broadcaster with an audience mostly of this ideology. According to data from the Generalitat’s Center for Opinion Studies, the audience of news from the non-independence voters has fallen from 24% to 13.5% in the last six years. “We are a public channel and we owe it to the whole population, not just a part”, said the same union voice.
The CCMA replies, in its defense, that the reports of the Audiovisual Council of Catalonia (CAC) –the body that controls the contents of the public media, which also has its four members with expired mandates– certify that “TV3 and Catalunya Ràdio are committed to plurality and political and social diversity”. This portrait is denied by the two CAC councilors who usually express their opinions through their private votes in reports about TV3. “The CAC has become an alibi. And what is worse is that there is a certain passivity, there are fewer and fewer complaints, made on the social networks, yes, but they do not reach the CAC”, says Daniel Sirera, member of this entity at the proposal of the PP; he is tired of criticizing the fact that the public channel speaks of “political prisoners and exiles, when they are neither one thing nor the other”.
Carme Figueras, a member proposed by the PSC, emphasizes some programs, not news, including talk shows and political content, “in which there is a clear imbalance between pro-independence participants and those who are not”. And she gives examples: “Between March and August 2020, the FAQS [Saturday night news space] interviewed 17 people who identify themselves as pro-independence compared to 4 who are not. In Tot és mou [afternoon magazine], 53 pro-independence activists were invited, compared to 15 who did not, and in the interviews of the Més 324 [daily analysis program] the proportion was 17 and 6”. In the same vein, Figueras highlights, for example, that the journalist and writer Pilar Rahola, very close to the theses of Junts, between March and August 2020 participated for 12 hours and 18 minutes in the programs Tot és mou [Everything is moving] and FAQS expressing “her personal opinion without reply or contrast”.