Workers at Madrid’s regional channels Telemadrid and Onda Madrid, Radio Television Madrid (Eprtvm) and the unions of CC OO, CGT and UGT, have rejected the proposed closure or privatization of Eprtvm, the only publicly-owned communications organisation in Madrid.
In a joint statement issued today, they argued that the existence of public broadcasting in the region “independent of political power, plural, truthful and public service" is the best guarantee for the effective implementation of the constitutional right of citizens to information, and is essential for democratic and civic development.” They also consider it to be the engine of the audiovisual industry in the community.
Radio Television Madrid directly employs over 1,000 people and indirectly gives employment to over 2,000. The cost of Telemadrid is €79 million a year, which is only 0.4% of Madrid’s budget, and regional television is cheaper for citizens of different communities (€17 per year per capita).
The statement says that in the past year the Government of Esperanza Aguirre has spent €111 million in institutional advertising (TV and radio ads), "30% more than it gives to Madrid Radio Television". It also notes that Telemadrid’s debt is 1.5% of the €16.191 million debt of the Community of Madrid for 2011, and that personnel costs of the public body have declined 15% from 2007 to 2011.
The statement points out that 70% of personnel costs account for 90% of the workforce (workers covered by the agreement), and 30% accounts for 10% (managers and contracts that may be appointed out of the agreement). The statement argues that Telemadrid has reduced workers by 250 (25%) since 2007, and executives and charges have nearly doubled since 2004, increasing from 27 to 46, with "many of them recruited from outside the agreement”.
This data, according to the statement, shows that there are no economic reasons or cost containment behind the possible closure or privatization of Onda Madrid and Telemadrid. Representatives of the workers believe that public broadcasting in Madrid is perfectly viable and can be socially and economically profitable. Its disappearance or privatization, in their opinion, would not provide a significant saving for the community budget and would not solve problems in education or health, warning that people shouldn’t be under the illusion that the measures are made to safeguard the social rights of the local community.
The signatories of the statement believe that the reasons behind these measures are ideological and are being defended by senior figures who don’t believe in public media but are pro privatisation. The statement calls for a commitment to a public medium of transparent and independent information to serve the whole of Madrid society, and not just a few.