The failure of the Valencian television model

August 29, 2012 § Leave a comment

This summer we read sad news about Canal 9 TV, the channel of the Valencian Country and the only  broadcasting in Valencian for the whole Valencian population. The regional government has approved to laid off around 1,000 workers (when the staff is close to 1,600). The decision means the end of a television model and the beginning of an uncertain era for Canal 9. The Valencian public corporation tried to follow the model of bigger autonomic channels, like the Catalan or the Basque, in terms of structure but not in terms of content. In general, the channel avoided a clearer self-centered focus on the programmes.

The result has been the drop of audience ratings (around 6% in 2011, when the average of the Catalan channel was around 14% in 2011, for example) and an unsustainable financial debt.  Canal 9 failed to catch its natural audience, scheduling programmes in competition with private and public Spanish channels. The content did not finally match with the function of the corporation. Unfortunately, this confirms the idea I have defended: a successful proximity TV needs both, structural and symbolic strategies in accordance to its target audience. In the Valencian case, I would say, the second was the problem.

During years,Valencian TV resisted to dub films in the language of the population and, after some experiments, declined to produce their own TV series in Valencian -with some early and recent exceptions like L’Alqueria Blanca-, perhaps thinking that the bilingual audience would prefer a fiction in Spanish. The quality of the productions was also in the edge. News and current affairs programmes took a sweetened style, stuffed with soft-news and too irrelevant issues and taking a high infotainment profile. The audience split: those looking for more serious topics, political information, and a higher independent scope went to other public and private channels; those looking for a real trash TV also found their channels.

As I wrote recently in an article:

“The constitution of  a ‘self-centre’ can be understood as the concerted action of specific social  groups (through policies fostered by parliaments but also through the actions of non-governmental organisations and individuals) to forge a structure (corporations, media companies, social associations, infrastructures, human resources) which takes as one of its objectives the circulation of a way of seeing things which conceives the world from a certain ideological definition of a centre, in dialogue with competing definitions from other”. Centers and Peripheries. Metropolitan and non-Metropolitan Journalism in the Twenty-First Century (edited by D. Hutchison and H. O’Donnell). More here.

Valencian TV did not consider the Valencian country as a real political center. Power (financial and political) and ideology, representation and popular culture, cultural policy and media… is a complex equation. The channel did not create the audience: is matter rather related to the concept of habitus (Bourdieu). Someone thought that creating a huge infrastructure was enough to go on, in a never-ending inertia. In humble opinion, it was a matter of time.

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Interviewing Tresserras

April 11, 2012 § Leave a comment

The last issue of the CJCS (4.1) is publishing an interview I did to Joan Manuel Tresserras, professor at the UAB and former Minister of Culture of the Catalan Government (2006-10). It is a large text which I did not manage to cut more as I found all the content of extreme interest.

Tresserras offers a valuable view on the evolution of the thought and the research on communication and cultural studies in Catalonia. At ‘Beginings and Theoretical Foundations’, Tresserras explains the rationale that brought his marxist approach to take a pro-independence position during the 70’s. Later, he enters on the relation between academia and cultural policies in Catalonia, all trying to understand the contribution of relevant scholars to society and the political sphere. Tresserras was undoubtedly the key figure who did suitable the current Law of Cinema, which should bring Catalan language to the big screen. In the interview, he defends the need of this new legal tool in order to assure the ‘normal’ presence of the language at the theaters. Closing the interview, he criticizes going on the social and cultural cuts of funding, which are being made in the current context of crisis.

For me, interviewing Tresserras was a great experience and I witnessed the lucid thought an intellectual who was close to the political powers and decision makers, but who always kept his scholarship in a bright tone.

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