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Spain/ 4.2 Specific policy issues and recent debates  

4.2.6 Media pluralism and content diversity

Ever since 1977, when the Ministry of Information and Tourism was replaced by that of Culture, the government's responsibility for the media was separated from its responsibilities for culture. As of 2000, the media comes under the responsibilities of the Secretariat of Telecommunications and Information Society of the current Ministry of Industry, Energy and Tourism. However, the Film and Audio-visual Arts Institute (ICAA)of the current Ministry of Education, Culture and Sport continues to develop strategies to foster the cinema and audiovisual industries by subsidising certain production and distribution costs, as well as the construction and renovation of cinemas.

The Act 4/1980 allowed the Autonomous Communities to set up their own publicly funded radio and television broadcasting operations, which many of them proceeded to do, such as:

  • Euskal Irrati Telebista / Basque Radio Television (1982);
  • Catalan Broadcasting Corporation (1983);
  • Galician Broadcasting Company (1984);
  • Valencian Broadcasting Entity (1984), abolished at the end of 2013;
  • Radio Television Entity of Madrid (1984);
  • Radio Television Entity of the Canary Islands (created in 1984 and beginning of emissions in 1999);
  • Radio Television Entity of the Balearic Islands (created in 1984, but it was not established as such until 2004);
  • Aragon Broadcasting Corporation (1987);
  • Public Enterprise Agency of Radio and Television of Andalusia (1987);
  • Radio Television Entity of Castile-La Mancha (2000);
  • Radio and Television Entity of Asturias (2003); and
  • Radio and Television Entity of Murcia (2004).

At the same time, at the national level, the second TV channel of the Spanish Radio & Television Corporation (RTVE) broadcasts some of its programmes in the languages of the different bilingual regions.

The radio and television broadcasters owned and funded by the autonomous regions, though not always structurally linked to the regional departments of culture and language, have been one of the pillars of cultural policy, particularly in the bilingual regions. Growing immigration, especially since the beginning of the 2000s, led the public media to seek new formulas through which to make this new social reality more visible in broadcasting and to make television available and accessible to new citizens as a means of facilitating their integration. State-funded Catalan television was the first Spanish broadcaster to create a Diversity Committee. Its main aims include the multilingual subtitling of emblematic programmes, the adaptation of its broadcasting language, coverage of the daily lives of new citizens on Catalan channels and the broadcasting of programmes that are of particular interest to new citizens. In 2005, also in Catalonia, the Table for Diversity in the Audiovisual Sphere was created to foster coexistence, respect and interchanges among people with different cultural affiliations, and to share the experience of recreation and renovation of Catalan culture.

Since the beginning of the 1990s, national and regional state-funded TV broadcasting coexists alongside private television. The proliferation of public and private channels, at national, regional and, more recently, local level, has generated fierce competition for available advertising revenue. The massive deficits accumulated by government -and Autonomous Community controlled broadcasting, together with the deterioration of their cultural content, have fuelled an ongoing debate on how publicly-owned broadcasting should be funded and about the privatisation of their management. An example of this is the abolition, in November 2013, of the radio and television broadcasters owned and funded by the Valencian Community. In the case of RTVE, the intense restructuring carried out in 2007 to address the economic problems of the entity finished in early 2010 with the abolition of advertising and the limitation of spending on programming. As a consequence of the economic crisis, the government of the Popular Party has launched a series of measures aimed at achieving greater efficiency and cost savings for the entity. These measures include the reduction of in members of the Board of Directors, as well as its remuneration regime (see also chapter 5.3.7).

From a content perspective, the media owned and run by the government are deemed to be public services that are obliged to respect the "political, religious, social, cultural and linguistic diversity [of Spain]". Among the aspirations of RTVE, the main "social media", are quality, plurality and cultural diversity. With the support of the Ministry of Culture, in April 2009, RTVE launched the channel to disseminate Spanish culture in Spain and worldwide. Budget cuts led to the disappearance of the cultural channel, although its contents became integrated into the programming of the second channel RTVE, which has now basically become a cultural channel.

Within RTVE, the radio side of the organisation has remained on the side-lines; not dependent on advertising revenues, the public service offered by its various channels (RNE, Classical Radio, Radio 3, Radio 4 and Radio 5) is of a good quality.

See also chapter 4.2.5 and  chapter 5.3.7.

Chapter published: 24-06-2015

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