Press conferences on independence referendum to come at a price

Private international broadcasting center handling news on vote charging journalists €10 per head

The Catalan regional government’s press conferences on the independence referendum have a price tag. Each journalist will be asked to pay €10 a day to access the International Press and Broadcasting Center (IPBC), which has been set up by multimedia communications group MediaPro to keep the international press abreast of developments on Sunday’s independence vote.

Mediapro headquarters in Barcelona.
Mediapro headquarters in Barcelona.TEJEDERAS

Deputy Catalan premier Oriol Junqueras appeared at the center earlier today to explain how voting will work on October 1, details of public interest which have remained under wraps until now. As well as the measures he announced, the deputy premier also showed reporters translucent plastic storage boxes emblazoned with the logo of the regional government, which will be used as ballot boxes. They will be sealed using orange zip ties, which were also on show on Friday.

The fee for the press will include not only unedited first-hand official information, but access to Wi-Fi, catering and a simultaneous translation service.

The fee includes first-hand official information, Wi-Fi, catering, and a translation service

Last Wednesday, MediaPro announced it would be setting up the private press center, but denied that it was responding to a request by the Catalan regional government to do so. Rather, it claimed, it was addressing the logistical problems facing the regional government after the Constitutional Court suspended the planned poll.

While defending its approach to what it has termed “a business opportunity,” MediaPro has set up the private press center at its offices on Barcelona’s Diagonal Avenue.

The regional government made no mention of the journalist’s access fee at its press conferences – either at the conference held by Junqueras or that to be given by regional justice minister Carles Mundó set for 4pm this afternoon to explain “the legal implications of actions against the referendum.”

The referendum results will also be broadcast from the IPBC.

The handling of the press during Catalonia’s last independence referendum on November 9, 2014 was used as evidence against the former deputy premier Joana Ortega in court. Ortega was handed a 21-month ban from all public office over her involvement in the “participatory process.”

English version by Heather Galloway.

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