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(Credit: RTVE, screenshot)

RTVE, Spain’s public broadcasting network, almost lost editorial independence this week.

Earlier this week, the Guardian reported that RTVE’s “governing board” voted “to give themselves access to scripts and videos due to be used in news programmes.” Essentially,  the governing board would have been able to have prior review of RTVE’s content and screen information in advance of publication.

The new powers were granted in a Sept. 21 vote, according to the Guardian.  Nine of the eleven governors are political appointeees.

According to the Guardian, RTVE journalists stated that the board shouldn’t get to take journalists’ actions, like picking “the way in which news is chosen, gathered, corrected or put together.”

RTVE journalists had responded critically and claimed that the board wanted to censor the network. Likewise, the Federation of Journalists” Association of Spain also slammed the initial decision, according to DAWN, stating:

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“This is a proposal that takes us back to a past that we thought we had forgotten, where freedom of information did not exist.”

But, DAWN.com reported Sept. 23 that the board of directors “abandoned” the new powers. According to DAWN, members of the board “backpedaled and vowed to reverse the decision” in response to the heavy criticism of the new powers. The board is quoted as stating:

“Given the opposition and unease this decision has raised among the workers of the company and wide sectors of public opinion, we have reconsidered this decision and request its cancellation in an urgent meeting of the board called for that purpose.”

Expatica Spain added that the board stated  “It was never the intention of board members who voted for the measure or those who allowed its approval by abstaining to interfere with the news staff’s work nor, even less, affect their professional independence.”

iMediaEthics has written to RTVE for comment and will update with any response.

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RTVE Group Gets — and then Gives Up — Powers to Censor & Prior review Spanish Broadcaster

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