October 26, 2017 Last Updated 3:39 pm

Catalan public media warn of threat to freedom of the press due to takeover by Spanish government

The Catalan media companies TTV3, Catalunya Ràdio and the Agència Catalana de Notícies (ACN) today issued a manifesto regarding the threat by the Spanish government to takeover control of the public media in Catalunya should the government apply Article 155 of the Spanish Constitution.

The threat by the government of Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy comes after the contentious referendum of October 1 where Catalans voted overwhelmingly for independence from Spain. The voting was met with police action that resulted in beatings of voters, and the seizure of some ballot boxes. As a result, only 43 percent of those eligible to vote ended up voting in what the Spanish government labeled an illegal referendum.

Today, the President of the Generalitat, Carles Puigdemont, was to either give a speech in parliament declaring independence for the region, or alternatively, to call new regional elections. Desperately looking for a way to defuse the crisis, he had hoped that calling new elections might lead to the Spanish parliament suspending the idea of applying Article 155. But no positive signal was given, and so Puigdemont threw the issue back to the Catalan parliament, which is expected now to vote on declaring Catalunya a republic.

In this environment, Catalan public media is trying to fend off a takeover. But this situation will reach a point of no return with the next 48 hours unless a compromise is reached. But the right-wing government of Rajoy looks to be begging for a confrontation, while the separatists have a majority in the Catalan parliament, and what they perceive to be a mandate from the voters. But the EU has not offered support, so Catalans appear to be on their own, faced with the prospect of surrendering to the authority of Spain, or else fighting for independence. Whether they are willing to go that far is something I personally doubt, but the next few days may prove me wrong. Hopefully it won’t come to that.


Here is the statement today from the public broadcasters and Catalan News Agency:

The public broadcasters TV3 and Catalunya Ràdio were founded in 1983 under a mandate from all the political parties then represented in the Catalan Parliament, the institution which represents the will of the citizens of Catalonia whom it is our duty to serve.

From Catalonia and in the Catalan Language, we have for 34 years striven to inform about world events with the maximum pluralism and veracity, and this has made us the most trusted and highest-rated source of news in Catalonia.

The threat by the Spanish Government to take direct control of Catalan public media, including the ACN (Catalan News Agency) constitutes a direct attack on the citizens of Catalonia, and a denial of their right to true, objective, pluralistic, balanced information – a fundamental right in any democracy.

The simple fact that a government plans to take over and control these media is proof enough of its intent to infringe these rights. Government control is not compatible with freedom of the press.

This government interference in the media is unacceptable in a democratic Europe, it is a direct attack on the founding principles of the European Union.

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