Spanish Pundit (II)

marzo 27, 2007

PP, PSOE, PRISA and the freedom of expression

Some days ago I posted about the demonstration held in Madrid against the concession of the 2nd grade to ETA terrorist De Juana Chaos. I also mentioned that there were a lot of people -especially Socialists, Communists and Nationalists- had protested over it in very angry terms.

But last week, something happened which is very grave. As much of you know El País is the most re-known Spanish paper abroad. It belongs nowadays to a holding, named PRISA, who is owned in a very important part by Spanish multimillionaire Mr. Jesús de Polanco. He made his fortune during Franco’s dictatorship selling books for students in low grades and then he made his empire grew into the most important Spanish communications holding. It includes radios (40 Principales -pop music-, Cadena Ser -information and general-, Cadena Dial -Spanish traditional and folk music-), TVs (Cuatro or Canal+), many newspapers (among others, EL Pais), several editorials (such as Alfaguara), and much more. He had also interests in South America.

After Franco died, he understood that democracy made his empire a little more fragile, as the priviledges he had within the dictatorship ended with it. So, he allied with the Socialists. I even remember that a Norwegian minister said once: “I have seen many parties which owned MSM, but this is the 1st time I see a political party owned by the media“. When I told this a friend some years ago, he told me “that Norvegian is a fascist”….

El Mundo newspaper [in its paper edition of Monday 26th, 2007, 3rd page] mentions all the priviledges that PRISA has had:

Political favours from the residual Fraco-ism when Arias Navarro authorised the publishing of El País, directed then by someone who was considered as Franco’s supporter, some months earlier than all its competitors. Political favours of the UCD [Unión de Centro Democrático = Democratic Center Union] when they authorised and made easy by the Suarez’s Government, the Cadena Ser buying at a ridiculous price. Political favours of Felipe González when they gave PRISA a pay-per-view television in a process founded in the public interest and when they let them merger with Antena 3 Radio illegally [according to a Supreme Tribunal Sentence]. Political favours with the Aznar’s Governments when they elude to execute that Supreme’s sentence and when they authorised the merger between Canal Satélite [from PRISA] and Vía Digital [From Telefónica] that in practice was only a concession of the monopoly of the pay-per-view TV. And political favours from Zapatero’s Government when they have transformed the licence of Canal + into a non-pay-per-view TV [la Cuatro] and modified the radiophonic legislation not to execute definitely the Supreme’s sentence“.

Anyway, both abroad and at home the holding had had a very good reputation as objective and just media.

But not any more, among a broad segment of Spanish society. The partial news they write or read in the radio had made a lot of people even erasing there radios or TVs from the machines at home, at office or in their cars. The newspaper that after the 9/11 attacks titled his edition of the day as “The world, waiting for Bush retailation”, is hated by ones and loved by others.

And these feelings had been deepened by the statement Mr. Jesús de Polanco gave last week at the Annual Gathering of Stakeholders of his holding. This statement runs:

It’s very difficult to be neutral when everything is one of the parts here things anythings is worth to get back the power“. “There are some people who want to go back to the Civil War. We have just seen a demonstration that was pure and hard Franco-ism. If this gentlemen regain power, they are going to come with a retaliation feeling, that, personally, scares me“. “If there was a right-wing party in Spain, laic, strong, with guts, Prisa will support it. It is what we are lacking of. We have already a left-wing party.”

In the same event, a stakeholder asked Polanco, why Hermann Tersch, a reknown journalist from El Pais was critisizing Socialist Government and what they were going to do about that contradiction. Polanco’s answer is an example of his own character:

That contradiction is now over. You will see it very soon, as the rest of the readers of the newspaper“.

The journalist had been fired because his ideological position was totally different from that of the holding. He had been a polemic journalist much critisized because he did not agree with the official line.

When the Government was all day speaking about the “fascists” and the “far-right”, he said:

“If an anticonstitutional flag or two, appear in a demosntration to which hundred of thousands of people there is no problem. In this country, there is no far-right: the elections tell you that, even there are a lot of people who want it to exist and a lot are also doing everything in their power to make it appear. I really believe that the people who try to generate and promote the far-right are in other places”.

He also called Castro the “sad Ceaucescu of the Antilles“, and he also supported Radio Cope which was threatened with an inmediate shut because the leading anchors were [and are] critisizing the Government. He said:

The quick deterioration of the Spanish political climate can have a lot of culprits. But the relentless pursuit of the offices and homes of members from political parties [remember that there was a brutal campaign of the anti-war hordes before the 2004 elections, in which lots of PP offices were broken into, PP militants and supporters were beaten and insulted continuosly, and then Zapatero considered those things as legitimate acts of freedom of speech] and to MSM, its worst and most grave expression yet, is an open, obscene and exclusive practice, but each day more frequently used by Catalan and Basque ultranationalist groups, some of them with political institutional bindings or not with the political party now in the Spanish Government.

It is an intolerable corruption of the democratic life that remembers me the harrasment of the members of German Nazi Party to the German and Austrian democratic media in the early days of Nazism and also to the agressions which were subjected the democratic media from the ultranationalists in the Balkans before and during the 90’s”.

So Rajoy has today asked why PRISA invites PP members if they are so bad.

In a breakfast organised by the Fórum Europa, Mariano Rajoy underlined that his party is independent, free, does not obey orders from nobody”, and it is only dependent on the Spanish people and their interests”. He was referring to the PP’s decision of not giving any more interviewes to PRISA group, in an answer that was afterwards strongly cheered by the people attending the meeting.

Related news:

Spanish writer Almundena Grandes says that “each morning she would shoot people who make her mad“. She writes for PRISA.

Ex-Defense Minister José Bono [his father was a member of Falange, the political party supporting Franco] says that PRISA will make sure that PP pays for this decision. Ejem. This said by the same Minister who declared that “he preferred to die than to kill” so he had ordered the troops “not to shoot anyone when in combat in Afghanistan“… makes me wonder: if he was so brave as to die without killing the enemy -apart from not understanding war…-, why on earth is he considering fear about the consequences this acts for PP?

There are also MSM and politicians who have critisized PP’s decision not to go to PRISA’s MSM. It is necessary to mention that PSOE is boycotting TeleMadrid and other Regional Public TV’s from PP-leadered Autonomous Communities, simply because they thought that these MSM were not neutral.

I agree with PP decision, I think they should have taken this decision long ago.

And it is curious that no one is commenting about Tersch’s sacking as a full violation of the freedom of expression in this country. But they are considering that, after being gravely insulted, one should go there to kiss their asses. No, thanks, democracy was made to defend normal citizens from abuses. And the abused here is not PRISA but Tersch. One reasonable leftist man.


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