Plunging audience ratings and massive protests from the staff of National Radio of Spain (RNE) over the line taken by the management have led to the removal of the director of the public radio network, Manuel Ventero.
His place will be taken by Alfonso Nasarre, until now in charge of Communication and Institutional Relations at the public television broadcaster, RTVE. The substitution has been described as a "swap" of positions, since Ventero will take over the department previously directed by Nasarre.
Ventero's replacement comes just a year after he was appointed, during which time RNE's audience has fallen by almost 700,000 listeners. The programming strategy he imposed, with the abrupt dismissal of those responsible for the main programs (Juan Ramón Lucas, in the morning magazine show, and Toni Garrido, in the afternoon slot) was the root cause of the audience migration: one of every three public radio listeners has defected to other broadcasters.
According to the latest General Media Survey (EGM), RNE lost 15 percent of its listeners in the first quarter of this year, on top of a 23-percent decline observed in the previous survey at the end of 2012.
Apart from audience desertion, Ventero also faced strong internal protests. A few weeks ago, 517 workers (half of the RNE workforce) signed a letter addressed to RTVE's president and its board of administration expressing their concern at the swift decline in audience, and their fear that RNE might become a "marginal network, ignored by the listeners."
"In view of the fact that the staff are the same as a few months ago, this loss of audience can only be due to mistaken management: a management style that has deprived RNE of the principal signs of identity that ought to characterize a public radio network — independence and quality," the statement read.
The text also called for a "modern, reality-oriented radio," while questioning the claim that the new RNE was built on criteria of professional quality.
In a communiqué released on Wednesday, the corporation states that Ventero is leaving his post "after having set up the new Radio 5, and coordinating the integration of the regional centers of RNE and TVE." He will now assume the post of Communication and Institutional Relations in RTVE "to project and advance the Corporation's image in its relations with other news media and public and private institutions, and to energize internal communication in the Company in terms of Corporate Responsibility, while coordinating the work of the three basic pillars of the Corporation: TVE, RNE and RTVE.es."
The director of RTVE, Leopoldo González-Echenique, announced this management reshuffle to the corporation's board of administration, which approved it. Not for nothing, a substantial majority of board members owe their posts to the Popular Party.