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TV tech turns folk hero in network switch-off saga

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TV tech turns folk hero in network switch-off saga
Hero of the hour: Paco Signes, aka Paco Telefunken. He told reporters he had a gut feeling he shouldn't shut down a regional station threatened with closure. Screen grab: YouTube
13:29 CET+01:00
A technician at a debt-laden Spanish regional television station became a folk hero in a matter of hours on Friday morning after he ignored an order to switch the network signal off.

Workers at the government television station on Friday defied an order to close the broadcaster by airing their own live protest programme.

Staff at RTVV, a loss-making broadcaster owned by the government in the eastern Valencia region, refused to accept their fate quietly.

They launched a live protest broadcast that ran through the night as they fought to keep the region's only Catalan-language television service on air.  

And on Friday morning, an unlikely hero emerged in the form of network television technician Paco Signes, or, as he better known, Paco Telefunken, or 'Paco TV-head'.

"I'm not cutting off Channel 9," the technician told reporters.  

He had initially been called in by the station's liquidators to report on the closure of the station. But he left the offices of network's headquarters for what he called "personal reasons".

"I'm taking the decision that this (the station) won't close today," he explained.

"My conscience tells me not it shouldn't be shut down, that's the feeling I get. I've decided to go home given how it's all going," said the technician.  

Spain's social media networks quickly filled with message of support for Paco Telefunken. On early Friday afternoon, he was the number one trending topic on the social media site. 

The victory was pyrrhic, however. At 12.19 Channel 9 stopped transmitting.

Minutes earlier, police had entered the building with orders to clear all staff out of the station's broadcasting centre.

Police shut down Valencia's RTVV network on Friday afternoon.

Valencia regional radio reportedly went off air just before midnight on Wednesday. 

Valencia's regional government had tried to fire 1,000 of the 1,700 workers at Radio Television Valenciana (RTVV) but staff successfully challenged the procedure in court.

Valencia's government said it could not afford to comply with the court order to bring back the laid-off workers. Instead it announced November 5 a decision to shut down the operation entirely.

It marks the first shutdown of a regional television station in Spain, which alongside national broadcaster Television Espana also has 13 regional public television stations, some of which have several channels.

The final broadcast of RTVV on Friday with police watching on. 

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