The credibility of TVE newscasts is on life support. "(...) We speak of a country called Spain", and the presenter of the programme with this more obvious than funerary phrase gives way to yet another report on the so-called Catalonian "Procés".
What the presenter does not say is that, for a long time, many Catalonians have got the feeling that TVE has been disconnected from Spain. Specifically, from the moment during the morning of Sunday, October 1, 2017 in which their leaders in Madrid took the dangerous decision to silence the quite serious events that were occurring in Catalonia.
There were more and more those who thought that the decision of those responsible for TVE delegitimized the network as a State public television. While Catalonia became the centre of world attention that October 1, TVE covered up the events that followed, censured live monitoring and dedicated itself to reporting on Botswana and the wildlife of Hawaii.
During a live newscast it is more difficult to manipulate. For that reason, those responsible for TVE decided not to broadcast live that day and limited themselves to reporting on the news, which would once again prioritize the argument of the Popular Party.
The TVE News Council, a democratically-elected professional representation body, whose main function is to promote the editorial independence of TVE, has documented hundreds of bad practices committed in recent months. Something that is unparalleled is precisely the one that refers to October 1st in Catalonia. The TVE News Council attributes the anti-professional decision not to prepare special and adequate news coverage to follow the events that took place in the chain's news network, led by José Antonio Álvarez Gundín, former head of Opinion for the newspaper " La Razón".
THE TVE PROBLEM HAS BEEN A LONG TIME IN THE MAKING
The editorial staff in the TVE Production Centre in Catalonia reported to the News Council that the content of the information related to October 1st issued on the news was skewed and hid much of what actually happened. The TVE News Council has sufficiently documented that the "Procés" became trench warfare. Day by day, the division between the Catalonian general public and their political representatives was highlighted, on one side, those who wanted Catalonian independence and rejected the 1978 constitutional model, and the other side who did not defend that position.
The feeling is that TVE has never been interested in really opening the debate about what is happening in Catalonia.
The tension under which newsrooms work is enormous. We have companions who are regularly caught between a rock and a hard place. There are those who have been forced to go on sick leave, suffering a kind of karoshi (overwork). The saddest thing is that where they spend more time when working is not to propose, research, design and develop information but to try to destroy the guidelines that arrived in Sant Cugat from Madrid. Some guidelines that have no real fundament, rather only responding to informational indoctrination that degrades the viewer and only satisfies a government that does not believe in the vital role of public television, which cannot be other than democracy, social cohesion, cultural diversity and pluralism.
TVE's problems have been a long time in the making, when the RTVE Statute was drafted in 1980 with the approval of then president of the government Adolfo Suárez, who had been general director of RTVE in times of "Paca la Culona", a derogatory term for who was better known as Franco. From the very first moment, politicians wanted to take over Spanish public television.
The discredit of the RTVE Corporation could be held in check now, if the political parties make an concerted and speedy effort so that the legislative amendment of the 2006 Law approved in Congress in 2017 allows a professional, independent and ambitious RTVE presidency.
We want a public radio broadcast of all and for all. An RTVE for our society. A television with sufficient independence to avoid the influence of the current government on the contents of the programming. We have to try again that no government, whatever their colour, controls the News again.
If this is not the case, and the political parties do not get their act together but rather just look the other way, there may come a time when our beloved TVE does not survive on life support and will die of grief. And then, we will be forced to make a collection for it to put an unaffordable tombstone like the one we discovered one day in an Italian cemetery: "I had told you I was not feeling well you bastards!"