Andalusian TV executive loses job over New Year’s Eve gaffe

Viewers miss their grape count after commercial breaks interrupt live broadcast

Enrique Sánchez and Ana Ruiz during the ill-fated broadcast from Almería.
Enrique Sánchez and Ana Ruiz during the ill-fated broadcast from Almería.

A top executive for the Andalusian regional television network Canal Sur resigned late Thursday after the station’s live New Year’s Eve transmission from Almería was interrupted during the clock-chiming ceremony at midnight.

According to an ongoing investigation, the gaffe is being blamed on “human error, involving at least three station employees.”

Joaquín Durán, the assistant director at Radio-Television Andaluza (RTVA), announced late Thursday the resignation of José Luis Pereñíguez, who served as director of broadcasts and continuity at Canal Sur.

A YouTube video of the moment the ads interrupted the midnight chimes.

The entire RTVA staff was said to be in “absolute dismay” after television screens across the region were interrupted by commercial breaks, leaving New Year’s Eve celebrators unable to follow the tradition of eating 12 grapes along with the chimes of the clock.

“All of us here at RTVA apologize to Andalusians for this unfortunate error,” a spokesman for the regional public channel said after an emergency meeting of the station’s staff.

We understand it was unintentional, but it hurt the feelings of all the people in Almería”

“When these types of events are broadcast, they can either be done manually or pre-programmed, which was the case here. The commercial break was supposed to have occurred at 12.01am, right after the clock chimes, but instead broke in at midnight. Then someone tried to take control of the broadcast from Almería, and the live transmission resumed for a few seconds, but another commercial came on, and when they were finally able to eliminate it, the clock was on the 10th chime,” said the spokesman.

The New Year’s Eve broadcast was held in Almería to mark the 1,000-year anniversary of the proclamation of the Kingdom of Almería by Islamic conquerors.

“Almería has become a New Year’s Eve joke,” said Jesús Muñoz, president of the citizens’ group Acción por Almería (Action for Almería). “The last time the New Year’s Eve broadcast was transmitted from Almería was in 1989. We understand that it was unintentional, but it has hurt the feelings of all the people in Almería.”