Accusations of a witch hunt at RTVE

DetailsJuan Fernandez Gonzalez | 21 January 2015

A tense situation has arisen inside Spanish public broadcaster RTVE, with many workers, led by the Consejo de Informativos – the council of the news office – claiming that staff dismissals are taking place in order to increase political control of the channel.

In a public statement, the council has used terms such as 'witch hunt' and 'purge' to describe the current situation, which has been going on for the past few months. "Lately we have seen the professional marginalisation of recognised and great journalists," said the announcement.

The council points to some of the recently appointed area chiefs as leaders of the wave of increased control, such as Cecilia Gómez, who is in charge of financial news, and the news office director, José Antonio Álvarez Gundín. Since he arrived at the network in November, the workers have continued to oppose his decisions to fire and replace various journalists.

RTVE management, however, has rejected the accusations in a public statement, saying that witch-hunting is too strong a word to describe the current situation of changes at RTVE. According to them, only 15 professionals have been affected by the recent changes out of an 811-strong staff of journalists.

This situation is nothing new at RTVE as the same concern was flagged up when the previous director of news services, Julio Somoano, was in control.

Although it didn't name him directly, in September 2014 the news council's VP, Xabier Fortes, signed a letter along with 1,500 more workers highlighting the government's increasing control of the network.