Following the dismissal of a number of top radio and TV personalities, Spanish journalists have expressed concerns that the government is launching a bid to control the public broadcaster, RTVE.
Ana Pastor, a well known journalist, was removed from her job as presenter of a popular morning television news programme over the weekend, becoming the latest prominent reporter to lose their job during a series of dismissals in recent months.
She told daily newspaper, El Pais: “It is a political decision.”
Pastor has developed a reputation for interrogating senior members of the ruling Popular Party during the last general election campaign, leading many to expect her dismissal after Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy took office in December.
RTVE said that they had offered Pastor another programme to present, but she said that no concrete job proposal was offered, and the dismissal has sparked controversy among local journalists.
Spain’s government has been facing mounting criticism in recent months, including claims that that the authorities are using austerity measures as a cover for removing the most visibily critical journalists from their positions at the station.
Public Radio RNE presenter, Toni Garrido said: “We think we live in a highly developed democratic system but we are going back to the tradition of when the government changes, public radio and television changes too."
Although Garrido had doubled ratings for his news programme show since his appointment in 2007, he was removed from his position and replaced last month.
However, he said that he and his team have yet to receive confirmation of their dismissal. "I imagine it is difficult for those in charge to explain why we are not staying on, given the results we had. But the public radio should explain its decisions," he told AFP.
Juan Ramon Lucas, another journalist at RNE whose morning programme’s ratings increased to 1.4 million listeners, said that he was concerned about Pastor’s departure.
"This confirms that this is not a time for rigour and independence. And not for subtleties. This last point is sobering," he wrote on his Twitter account.
Reporters Without Borders have also noted their concern at the series of dismissals and the direction in which the station seems to be heading.
They said that the dismissals and appointments at RTVE seems "to confirm the worst worries which point to political takeover" of the broadcaster.
It added that Leopoldo Gonzalez-Echenique, a top official in the previous Popular Party, was nominated as the head of the broadcaster in June.