RTVE board ditches plan to spy on broadcasters

PP admits proposal generated "outrage" among journalists

Following a backlash from journalist groups and political parties, members of state broadcaster RTVE's administrative board on Thursday said it would rescind a decision that would have allowed them to check and approve the contents of television and radio newscasts before they were aired.

In a statement, the board said that it would today revoke the decision, which was approved on Wednesday. The move was supported by members appointed by the Popular Party (PP), while those named by the ruling Socialists abstained. The objective was to allow them to access the iNews IT internal operating system of news broadcasts to vet their content. In practice, any member could have been able to pre-censor stories or at least preview the news feeds and videos that were to be used on the telecasts.

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The proposal was presented by PP-named board member Rosario López Miralles, who on past occasions had tried to present a similar plan.

"I am not making any comment," López Miralles said on Thursday after the PP issued a statement saying that its four members on the RTVE board have "reconsidered" the decision. "I respect what the board does and I don't comment on its decisions." The PP, which has complained of RTVE bias in favor of the ruling Socialists, acknowledged that it was rescinding the plan because of "the opposition and the outrage" it had generated. Prime Minister Zapatero's administration has taken steps to depoliticize RTVE, making it necessary for the broadcaster's director general to be agreed on by a parliamentary consensus.

Before the PP's decision, Socialist candidate Alfredo Pérez Rubalcaba called the proposal "a mistake" and hoped it would be corrected.

Mariano Rajoy, the PP leader, said "it takes a wise man to acknowledge his own mistakes."

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