Workers fight shutdown of Valencia public TV in Spain
Spanish employees vowed Wednesday to save a public broadcaster in Valencia which authorities say is financially doomed, the latest casualty of the regional cash crisis in the eurozone's fourth-biggest economy.
Leaders of the eastern region defended their decision to shut down the television and radio service RTVV, saying they were forced to do so when a court ruled the company could not fire 1,000 workers to try and stay afloat.
But the secretary of the works council representing RTVV workers, Jose Alcaniz, told AFP: “The ruling demands the reinstatement of the workers and we are going to use all political and judicial means to achieve that.”
Regional President Alberto Fabra, of Spain’s ruling conservative Popular Party, said the shutdown was “non-negotiable”.
The regional government says RTVV has one billion euros ($1.4 billion) in accumulated debts and cannot afford to pay all its employees and continue operating.
“The court ruling leaves us no other option but to close down the station because we cannot bear the cost,” Fabra told reporters on Wednesday.
“We do not have the 40 million euros required to take back those 1,000 workers, because we need that money to maintain education, health and social services.”
Tuesday’s announcement to shut the channel primarily affected the broadcaster’s total 1,700 staff and audiences in a region of five million people, but it also echoed the impact of spending cuts in Spain’s public services overall.
Fighting to stabilise the public finances, Spain’s central government has imposed tough budget targets on the 17 regional authorities.
Valencia is the most heavily indebted of the regions, having spent big during a decade-long building bubble and struggled after the boom went bust in 2008.
RTVV broadcasts news in the Valencian language on Radio 9 and leading television channel Canal 9 in the region, which includes the city of Valencia and the major seaside towns Alicante and Benidorm.
Under the latest central government targets, the 17 regions must make eight billion euros in savings through cost-cutting and extra taxes in 2014 and 2015.
Alcaniz said he expected the legal proceedings needed to shut down RTVV to take at least two months, “and in that time we will certainly stop it”.
“It is not an overnight shutdown. Unless they send the police to seize the station by force, everything will continue as normal in the meantime.”