The last episode that has transcended is judicial. A little over a month ago, the Superior Court of Justice of Galicia condemned the Galician public television for violating the freedom of expression of a worker. The company refrained from appealing the sentence, which it considered proven that the sanction imposed by the entity’s management on journalist Carlos Jiménez had been for his participation in the staff protests against information manipulation, the so-called Venres Negros. To the president of the Xunta, Alfonso Rueda, such serious events did not deserve more comment than, to questions from the press, a common place, that of “with respect to justice”. In view of what has happened in the Galician public media since 2009, when Feijóo arrived at the Galician Government, Rueda’s evasiveness was foreseeable.
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The 6,251 euros that the Galician Radio Television Corporation (CRTVG) must pay Jiménez for “damages and prejudice for violation of fundamental rights” are, indeed, the last of a very long series of episodes. The one that has led the channel to the center of public debate. Submission to the interests of the Popular Party, job insecurity, non-compliance with parliamentary media law or lack of control in the broadcast of sexist content mark the day-to-day life of one of the most emblematic institutions of Galician autonomy. It is repeatedly denounced by unions, professional associations or opposition parties, for whom the situation, in addition to affecting the right to information of citizens, leads to the very idea of public media -and its unique role as “normalizing agent of the Galician language and culture”- to discredit.
Informative in the hands of a PP intervenor
The collective Defende A Galega has been organizing the Venres Negros for more than four years. It is a symbolic act by which the company’s workers dress in black and flood social networks with their images so that the CRTVG “fulfills the mission for which it was created.” “We are talking about the right of Galician men and women to have the TV and radio for which they pay, that serves their interests and not those of those who are in the Xunta,” they explain via email to elDiario.es. It was the support of Carlos Jiménez for this initiative that originated the sanctioning process now reversed by the Justice. But the mechanisms that have been imprisoning the CRTVG had begun to activate much earlier. The symptoms were multiplying.
It was only two years after Feijóo’s arrival in San Caetano, seat of the Galician Government, and the appointment of the company’s still CEO, Alfonso Sánchez Izquierdo, when the Socialist Party revealed in Parliament that the news director appointed by the new team had been an electoral controller for the Popular Party. Pilar Martínez replied that she had never been a member of the conservative formation and that she exercised her rights as a citizen. She no longer performs that function, but that was a sign. “Everything that happens is serious,” says Defende Galega, who focuses on “its partisan use, with multiple signs of manipulation and censorship.”
It was after nine o’clock at night on May 24, 2012, Galicia in the midst of one of the biggest recent economic crises and the popular ones applied the scissors in public investment, when the Galician Television news interrupted its rundown and agreed with the Pazo de Raxoi, in Santiago de Compostela. Feijóo signed papers together with the then general director of the Mexican state oil company Pemez, Juan José Suárez Copell. The Galician president used the bombast of great occasions to promise the construction in Galician shipyards of 14 tugboats and 2,500 direct and indirect jobs. The figures grew fatter as the October elections approached and Feijóo came to include up to 40 ships in his repeated promises. The reality, which the Galician Television reported with much less relish, was finally another: only two orders reached the Galician factories. And several former directors of Pemex who had shared photographs with the former president ended up persecuted by the Justice.
Galician public radio did not make an effort to explain to its audience other famous photographs, those that portrayed Núñez Feijóo together with the drug trafficker Marcial Dorado in different places and situations. He published them in April 2013 The country. For the station, in direct connection with the president, what was relevant in his opinion was to know if he could think of who could have leaked the images. “The quality of public service is getting worse and worse,” summarizes Anxo Méndez Añón, president of the inter-centre committee of the CRTVG for the CIG, who recalls the systematic breach of the media law approved by the Galician Parliament more than ten years ago.
Negligence regarding current legislation
This laziness with respect to the current legality has concrete consequences. The eternally delayed constitution of a news council and a professional statute – both included in the norm – is nothing more, argue the unions, than a management strategy to not give up control. The committee adds other urgent demands, which it put forward years ago to the company’s leadership and with which Defende a Galega coincides: put an end to the outsourcing of programs and promotion of its own production, draw up a “program contract” that requires a grill of authentic public service, or the recovery of the suppressed local disconnections. All of them find protection in the 2011 law. But none is in progress. Neither is the solution to the “anomalous situation” of Alfonso Sánchez Izquierdo, general director of the entity, in office since 2015. His replacement, or ratification, depends on the support of two thirds of the seats in Parliament. The PP keeps it frozen.
Sánchez Izquierdo usually dispatches his appearances in the Chamber – which are required by law – with a certain indifference and without going into the depths of the criticism raised by the opposition parties, BNG and PSdeG. What Defende a Galega understands as “lack of gender perspective in content and programs” has come up for debate more than once. Still last month, the program air polo fun was dedicated to reporting the way to “get perfect buttocks” from cosmetic surgery. The unions demanded explanations and described him as sexist. A few days later, the channel broadcast a hagiography of King Juan Carlos after his controversial visit to Sanxenxo. And soon after, a priest blessed the new Radio Galega studio live.
The opposition and media law
The Board of Directors is responsible for the control and administration of the CRTVG. It is made up of seven members, one the director general and the other six at the proposal of Parliament. Feijóo’s leap into Madrid politics has caused unexpected tensions in him. Luis de la Mata, former press chief for the popular Galicians, left him to take over the same position but at the state level. The renewal of the council now needs a reinforced majority, 50 votes in the first round or 45 in the second. The PP, which has already proposed its two members, has only 42. The BNG assures that it will not agree to renew it if the Popular Party does not commit to complying with the media law. The PSdeG has not yet announced its position.