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Story of a Democratic Blackout: Valencia's Public Television Shuts Down (Part 1)

Radio Televisión Valenciana (RTVV), a public entity born in 1989 in Valencia, Spain, has closed. 

On the afternoon of November 5, the announcement from the Valencian government fell like a bucket of cold water among television and public radio workers, as that very morning they celebrated a sentence that declared the Layoff (ERE) [es], with which the public entity laid off 1,000 employees, void. This layoff, according to the Superior Court of Justice of the Valencian Community, violated the principle of equality under Article 14 of the Spanish Constitution by following “ambiguous, subjective, and generic” criteria and recognized the right to the reinstatement of the laid off workers.     

Soon after, however, the shock turned into indignation for a large part of Valencian society, and workers responded to it by firmly defending public television: Born was the slogan “RTVV no es tanca” (RTVV does not shut down) that quickly spread across social networks with the hashtag #RTVVnoestanca [es]. 

For its “grand finale,” people took to the streets in defense of “a public Valencian Television Radio, in valenciano and of quality” with the slogan: “RTVV does not shut down. It is yours” and cries of “Resign, Fabra!” (referring to the President of the Generalitat Valenciana, Albert Fabra). 

The demonstration  massive, festive, and demanding  was held on Saturday, November 9, following four days of Valencians organizing daily “mascletà” displays: a void ERE, the RTVV shutdown announcement, the layoff of the RTVV management team for “lack of confidence in the Consell” after “having not told the truth” [es], the rebellion of the channel's workers, which triples the audience [es] with an independent and uncensored program, and like a wick that quickly ignites on social networks, the final announcement that the Fabra Government will shut down the public television shutdown via an urgent ruling by decree [es], “to control RTVV” and not prolong the agony of a television that at times leaves Fabra and the Consell in the buff.       

Causes of the shutdown

Ultimately, what they're taking away is democracy.” [es] This was one of the first, forceful citizen reactions gathered on the streets by Spanish public television's news bulletin “La 2 Noticias” [es] within hours of news breaking on November 5: Radio Televisió Valenciana was closing. The very news anchor, Mara Torres, elaborated on it as follows on her Twitter account [es]:   

Abrupt shutdown of #RTVV. On #La2N

Social networks quickly echoed the government's announcement, just barely after credit was given to the first reports from workers of the entity themselves via their Twitter accounts, where they also almost simultaneously received the support of colleagues in the public media, such as programs like “Countries in Conflict” from the stated owned station Radio Nacional de España.  

The Valencian government will announce the shutdown of #RTVV in the next few hours, according to El Mundo. We workers do not have confirmation.  

I work in a public medium, I have always believed in the public and will always support them. With @vicentmontagud and #RTVV colleagues

Impact on the media and social networks 

Thus was born the slogan “RTVV no es tanca” (RTVV does not shut down), which quickly spanned social networks with the hashtag #RTVVnoestanca [es]:

Lacking confirmation, today may be the saddest day of my life. #RTVVNoEsTanca

Within a few hours, the hashtag that Vicent Marco used for the first time, #RTVVnoestanca became a trending topic in Spain: 

@Vicent_Marco the first mention of hashtag #RTVVNoEsTanca appeared on your TL. Now it is a trending topic in Spain! #trndnl

Channel 9 of Radio Televisión Valenciana announced the news echoing the statement made by the Valencian Government [es] and the agency's teleprinters, and news bulletin “Notícies 9″ opened that same night with part of the workforce in front of the cameras, supporting the statement their colleagues read about the shut down: 

The tone of the statement is harsh and places responsibility on the government of the “Consell” (Valencian government) which they brand with “poor political and economic management that has destroyed this medium.” [es] 

The speech by President of the Generalitat Valenciana, Albert Fabra, ended up angering not only the television and public radio workforce, but also much of the Valencian citizenry. And in his on-camera appearance, he even justifies the public television shutdown “to maintain basic services for citizens: eduction, health, and social policies.” 

“Fabra does not assume responsibilities”

In a report labeled “historic”, the Canal 9 TV workforce decided to dedicate special programming to the shutdown of the public channel, with a editorial line that was clearly in protest and made them open with a headline never before imagined in Valencian television: “Fabra does not assume responsibilities” (see minute 0:26 of the video entitled “Fabra does not assume responsibilities): 

The decision of the professionals to protest a “public television, in valenciano and of quality” to the last consequences was a setback for the Valencian government, which fearlessly received the protests before the RTVV shutdown from the very Radio Televisión Española [es] and all of the regional public television stations [es] except in the case of TeleMadrid — in addition to reactions from journalists, labor unions, universities [es] and political opposition groups in the Corts Valencianes.  

All of this was echoed by Canal 9 TV and the rest of the Valencian media, like Cartelera Turia [es], who also took to social networks to discusse the political intrigue surrounding the entity's management and commented on the scuffle between parliamentarians [es]:  

 

 

The Canal 9 TV broadcast came to a boil: protest promos, journalists from the entity that took to the street with cameras in hand seeking support from the citizens, direct from hot spots covering student, parliamentarian, teacher, and labor union protests against the television shutdown and heated debated around political causes in addition to consequences throughout the entire Valencian audiovisual industry involving politicians and civic organizations often vetoed [es] by the public channel, enraged social networks [es] and a permanent “fly” on television screens: #RTVVNoEsTanca.

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