Madrid – Spanish journalists and politicians reacted with alarm after board members of publicly owned Radio Television Española voted to give themselves the authority to review news stories before they are aired.
The proposal passed Wednesday with support from the board members representing the main opposition conservative Popular Party and the one delegate from the center-right Catalan party, CiU.
Voting against were the representatives of the leftist IU coalition and those from the UGT labor federation, while delegates from the governing Socialists, the Comisiones Obreras union and Catalan leftist party ERC abstained.
Once the measure became public, both PP domestic policy spokesman Javier Arenas and the Socialist party candidate for prime minister, Alfredo Perez Rubalcaba, described it as a "mistake" that needs to be corrected.
The council representing RTVE journalists denounced the board's action as "a direct attack on the freedom and independence of information professionals."
The Madrid Press Association likewise rejected the idea and said it may pursue legal action against the RTVE board.
Alex Grijelmo, CEO of Agencia Efe, Spain's international news agency, called the board's decision an "aberration."
In response to the uproar, the RTVE's 12-member board plans to meet again Friday to reconsider the policy, sources close to the directors told Efe.
The PP recently complained that TVE's coverage of the campaign for the Nov. 20 general elections has featured more stories about Rubalcaba than about Popular Party standard-bearer Mariano Rajoy.
TVE management says it is giving the candidates equal treatment.
The latest polls show the PP with a substantial lead over the Socialists, who have been in power since April 2004.