Tuesday, July 5

Telemadrid journalists will be the first to test Díaz Ayuso’s version of freedom

Isabel Díaz Ayuso has always said that her admiration for Esperanza Aguirre knows no limits. Now you have the opportunity to emulate it in relation to the control of Telemadrid. After a two-year term in which he was unable to pass any laws except a partial reform of the land law, his victory in the elections now allows him to try to make up for lost time. First is the most urgent, what can’t wait for after the summer. Measures on the pandemic? About the job? A new budget? No. This Monday, the PP has presented in the Assembly a project to replace the leadership of Madrid’s public radio and television. By the single read method. The fastest.

Aguirre had been warning Ayuso for a long time that he had to do something about it. “She is attacked by all the media. Everyone! She does not even have Telemadrid, which is ‘podemita’ to death,” said the former president of Madrid in 2020. The obsession came from before. In 2018, he mounted a good number on the program ‘Buenos Días, Madrid’ in 2018. Aguirre was annoyed by the questions asked by the presenter and her collaborators. “Take your rundown and watch at the same time the front pages of today’s newspapers. You will see that nowhere is what you have asked here. It’s the last straw! “. Journalists asking the questions they think appropriate. Where has that been seen.

The questions to the politicians of the party in power are usually one of those thermometers that betray those leaders who do not want surprises live. Aguirre, who cannot be denied that he was always very transparent, demonstrated this in September 2006 when he told Germán Yanke, host of the Telemadrid nightly newscast, that “I think you buy the speech of our adversaries” with your questions.

Weeks later, Yanke resigned when he learned that the network intended to impose changes that affected some of its on-screen collaborators. “They wanted to turn the program upside down and see to what extent, by remaining in command, I was willing to drop my pants,” the journalist explained years later.

The chain’s general manager was Manuel Soriano, who had had the perfect resume for that position. He had been communication director of the Ministry of Education when Aguirre was minister and of the Senate when she presided over it. When forced to resign after receiving a complaint of sexual harassment from a secretary, he became president of the Board of Directors of the public company. With everything he had done for the president, they couldn’t just put him down.

Soriano is known for having sent Aguirre a copy of the special program on March 11 co-produced by El Mundo, the newspaper that defended the conspiracy theory about the authorship of the attack, with a message with which he wanted to communicate that he could be calm. “Dear Regino. I am sending you the first part of the documentary that we will give on Thursday and Friday in ‘prime time’. Pass it on to the president. I think it has turned out quite well cinematographically and … ideologically.” The recipient was Aguirre’s chief of staff.

It was the pandemic that convinced Díaz Ayuso that he should begin to wear down the Telemadrid leadership, elected at the time of the Cristina Cifuentes government – when the PP did not have an absolute majority – by a reinforced majority in the Assembly for a period of six years. In a moment of maximum risk, propaganda is an irreplaceable element. “I could say that I am the only president autonomic and of the Government of Spain that has a television that is critical to him. And I have no objection to that, “he said in February 2020.

It did have them, as demonstrated by the attacks carried out on those same dates by the PP deputies against its general director, José Pablo López, in the parliamentary control bodies. War had already been declared. It began not long after Miguel Ángel Rodríguez became Ayuso’s chief of staff.

Rodríguez took care of the work that he already exercised with an iron fist in the first Government of José María Aznar. Warn the media that it would not tolerate anything other than the most absolute adherence. Not being able to give direct orders to Telemadrid supposed considerable anguish.

“There is an important thing here, I do not work for the Government, I work for the Public Administration,” López responded to the PP’s statements. He had previously been general director of 13tv, where it cannot be said that journalists from the left abound. Faced with Aguirre’s accusation that Telemadrid is “podemita”, Podemos abstained in the appointment of López, which was endorsed by the votes of the PP, PSOE and Ciudadanos.

The alternative used to harass López was to refuse to renew the program contract that establishes the financing of the medium as a public service. The financial asphyxia could lead the company to suffer losses and have to go into debt, which would have justified the dismissal of the management team according to the regional law.

Before the elections, Ayuso agreed to sign the agreement. If broadcasting was forced to lay off workers to reduce staff costs and meet budget balance, the government would have to shoulder its responsibility. With the good prospects that the elections gave, it was better to wait for the majority that will serve to change the law, as will happen now if the PP has the support of Vox.

The trump card of economic or audience losses in Telemadrid it hasn’t worked for Ayuso. The chain suffered a notable loss of share during the governments of Esperanza Aguirre and Ignacio González until it became irrelevant in terms of informational influence. The last few years have been much better. Regional television closed 2020 with a 6.3% share, his best data since 2011.

Of its 30 most viewed broadcasts last year, 27 corresponded to the Telenoticias program, which shows the roots of the chain during the pandemic, a time of great news consumption. Its website had a growth of 63% and was the most viewed among the websites of regional televisions, according to the company. Telemadrid claims to be the cheapest television in Spain and Europe with a cost per inhabitant of 11.2 euros per year.

For Díaz Ayuso and Rodríguez, cheap is expensive in terms of control capacity of public television. “Freedom of the press and responsible work of the media make a democracy stronger”, said in 2019 Ayuso. In the last campaign he did not stop stating that his candidacy was the only way to defend freedom in Madrid. Telemadrid journalists are going to discover very soon how much the president values ​​their freedom. They will only have to measure what is left of it after the approval of the new law.