Spanish TV sports boss fired in alleged censorship scandal

TVE sports director Julien Reyes was dismissed by the Spanish public TV network after a live broadcast cut away from images showing Basque and Catalan fans jeering at the national anthem during Spain's Cup final, raising questions about censorship.


AFP - Spain's public TV network fired a top director Thursday after its live broadcast cut away from images of Catalan and Basque fans jeering King Juan Carlos and the national anthem at Spain's Cup final.

In a statement, TVE said sports director Julien Reyes had been dismissed and an investigation has been opened to determine if other people are responsible for the decision, which it blamed on "human error."

"I consider it it an extremely serious mistake to not let citizens follow events live," TVE director Javier Pons told a news conference.

The arrival of King Juan Carlos and Queen Sofia at Valencia's Mestalla Stadium for the King's Cup final on Wednesday night between Barcelona and Athletic Bilbao and the playing of the national anthem that followed was disrupted by whistling from supporters of both sides.

But instead of broadcasting the incident live, the station switched to images of the atmosphere in the cities of Barcelona and Bilbao.

TVE broadcast the images of the whistling of the royals and the anthem during the interval. The images were carried live on TVE's website and public radio RNE.

Barcelona is the capital of Catalonia while Bilbao is the largest city in the Basque Country, the two regions in Spain where nationalist sentiment is highest.

Both regions have their own language and separatist parties.

The royal family and the national anthem, which has no words so as to not give preference to one of Spain's four official languages, are seen by many nationalists as symbols of a centralised Spain.

Spanish newspapers criticised the failure of TVE to broadcast the incidents live.

"Thousands of people jeered the king and the anthem and TVE conceals it," centre-right daily El Mundo wrote in a headline.

UEFA Champions League finalists and La Liga favourites, Barcelona beat Athletic Bilbao 4-1 to lift the Kings Cup for the first time in over a decade.

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