Blogger who urged boycott of Telecinco show called to appear in court case

‘La noria’ lost its advertisers after online campaign against paid appearance of murder suspect’s mother

Jordi González interviews the mother of "El Cuco" on 'La noria.'
Jordi González interviews the mother of "El Cuco" on 'La noria.'

A previously unknown blogger who began a campaign last year urging consumers to boycott products advertised on the controversial Telecinco show La noria has been called to appear in court as part of a case brought against him by the channel.

In 2011 Pablo Herreros began posting messages on his blog (meaning “communication is the name of the game”), in response to a broadcast of La noria in which presenter Jordi González interviewed the mother of a young man known as “El Cuco,” who was an official suspect in the infamous murder case of teenager Marta del Castillo, whose body was never found. The woman received a substantial payment for appearing.

Herreros called on viewers to stop buying products that were advertised during the show, and demanded that advertisers themselves withdrew their commercials. The campaign had an immediate effect, as companies such as Campofrío, Bayer, Nestlé, Panrico Donuts and Sabadell canceled their ads. The TV channel Telecinco ended up having to cancel the particular format, creating instead a new program for Saturday nights called El gran debate (or, The big debate).

A Madrid court will hear Herreros’ version of events on December 4, after Telecinco brought a case against him in July for alleged offenses of making threats and harassment.

Herreros, undeterred, has written about the case once more on his website. “The movement that I began, and that thousands of people supported, led for the first time in Spain to a program being broadcast without advertising, thanks to the responsible reaction of the brands that we asked to stop supporting intolerable behavior, as was the case with the payment of criminals and delinquents for talking about their crimes,” he wrote, a year after the original controversy.

The blogger believes that Telecinco missed its opportunity to put the brakes on the case. “Its management was an example of how not to deal with a communication crisis, in an era of transparency and of an internet that belongs to the people.” Herreros listed nine things that came about as a result of his initiative and the support of the public, among which are the “responsible” response of the brands, the cancelation of the show and the fact that the channel had to “soften” its content.

Herreros concluded his recent blog post with a reminder that the public should not forget about the victims in these cases, such as Marta del Castillo and Sandra Palo, the latter a young Spanish woman with mental disabilities who in 2003 was raped and murdered by a gang of youths, who then set fire to her body. El Rafita, one of the minors convicted of the crimes, was interviewed by Telecinco in 2010, and, in the eyes of many who saw the broadcast, was treated as a victim by the channel rather than a criminal.

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