Broad Alliance in defence of Radio Televisión Madrid and media freedom

Thursday 8 July 2021

A broad coalition of unions and civil society organisations led by UNI Europa affiliates FSC-CCOO and FeSMC-UGT has raised the alarm regarding the threat to the independence of Radio Televisión Madrid and freedom of information in Spain.

At a press conference at the Press Association of Madrid, the coalition that includes UNI Europa’s media, entertainment, and arts sector as well as the European Federation of Journalists presented a manifesto in defence of Radio Televisión Madrid and freedom of information. It called on the Madrid Assembly to vote against the proposal to revise the law on Radio Televisión Madrid, which dangerously reduces the mechanisms for safeguarding independence and plurality of the broadcaster. The vote is scheduled to take place tomorrow, 8 July.

This proposal to revise the law is being carried out as a matter of urgency in a single reading, avoiding debate and consensus among the parliamentary forces.

The recently elected regional government, led by the Partido Popular with the support of Vox, has decided as the first measure to modify the law of Radio Televisión Madrid. Among different measures, the government intends to reduce the current qualified majority required by law to appoint the director general of the channel and the board of directors to a simple majority in the Madrid parliament. Another measure seeks to replace most of the seats of representatives of civil society associations on the board of directors with representatives elected by the political parties. The government also wants to curtail the decision-making power of the board of directors regarding the appointment of management positions.

It is very clear that the two conservative parties seek nothing less than to take control of Radio Televisión Madrid.

This proposal is a brutal attack that seeks to destroy the heart of the independence of Radio Televisión Madrid and the plurality and quality of its programming” said William Maunier, President of UNI Europa – media, entertainment, and arts.

These proposals are undemocratic, dangerous and constitute yet another blow to the independence of the media in the European Union. While the European Commission is struggling to come forward with a clear and concrete plan to defend, promote and develop media freedom and pluralism, the number of EU member states that are the theatre of attacks on media freedom by political parties and authorities continues to grow. This needs to be stopped now!” Maunier warned.

Law 8/2015, of 28 December, on Radio Televisión Madrid, includes in its preamble the intention to create “a new model of public radio and television in Madrid, characterised by transparency, plurality, the implementation of good practices in the sector and good corporate governance”. It also assures that the model must be “plural and aspire to ensure that the people of Madrid feel represented, both in its composition and in the audiovisual content that is programmed, and to ensure that the different social sensibilities, both majority and minority, are permanently reflected, without discrimination for ideological, political or other reasons, as set out in the Spanish Constitution”. The proposal of the regional government of Madrid is diametrically opposed to these values and principles.

UNI Europa and its media, entertainment and arts sector calls on the regional government of Madrid and all political parties to respect and to promote media freedom and the independence of Radio Televisión Madrid. We call on the EU institutions to open a dialogue with the regional government of Madrid to ensure that its actions seek to “strengthen freedom and pluralism in media” and contribute to the objectives of the European Democracy Action plan.

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