The presidents of the autonomous communities of Catalunya, Valencia, the Balearic Islands and Murcia (Artur Mas, Alberto Fabra, José Ramón Bauzá and Ramón Luis Valcárcel) were in Brussels yesterday to voice their support for the proposed 'Mediterranean corridor' train line (read article in Catalan here, El Punt-Avui). The joint show of force for the plan came one month before a decision will be made by the European Commission on October 19th about whether to make the train line a priority and whether to finance a part of it. The Spanish government has shown support for the two route proposals that are on the table (the other one sees the line run through Madrid and across the western Pyrenees, avoiding Catalunya altogether), and although it has promised support to Catalunya has also lobbied for the 'eix central' through Madrid, a centralist plan that imitates the design of the high-speed AVE train. Artur Mas warned the Spanish government that if it wanted to keep getting money from Catalunya to finance other parts of Spain then there would have to be investment to connect the ports of Barcelona and Valencia by train with places such as Hamburg and Algeçiras.
The board of the Spanish public television network, RTVE, yesterday agreed a proposal that will allow them to vet the news that journalists are preparing for broadcast (read article in Castilian here, El Periódico). This means that board members will have advance access to interviews and reports, and take decisions on their merit and inclusion in the channel's news programmes, with the ability to get into the IT system that the journalists use, in effect spying on those people who are working on these broadcasts. This means that the case could arise whereby a member of the board of RTVE who has been chosen by a political party would see the questions that are going to be put to a member of that party in an interview in advance of it taking place. In addition, if one of the board members doesn't like the way that a news item is being developed for transmission, there is nothing to stop them calling the journalist concerned to raise their issues about the focus of the piece. As could be expected, the announcement of the approved change (which was not supported unanimously) has been met with much consternation amongst journalists from RTVE. One of the journalists at the network, Yolanda Sobero, who has worked there since 1982 and is now president of the Consejo Informativo, said to El Periódico that the move represented a way to "undermine and limit the independence of journalists."
The mortgage sector has seen its worst month in eight years with a fall during July of 47 percent in the number of loans issued for properties compared to the same month in 2010, with 29,523 mortgages approved—this is the lowest number since record began in 2003 (read article in Castilian here, La Vanguardia). During the first seven months of this year, the number of mortgages approved fell by just over 28 percent compared to the previous year; mortgages in Spain have now been falling month on month for more than a year. The average amount of mortgages approved for housing in July was €110,604, nine percent less than the same month in 2010, while the total amount of capital that was loaned out fell by almost 52 percent, to €3.27 billion.