The Catalan public television and radio broadcaster will have its budget drastically cut

In a meeting at the Parliament of Catalonia, the Catalan Government has announced that it will reduce its budget contribution to the Catalan public television and radio broadcaster (CCRTV) by 13.3%. As a consequence, the entire CCRTV budget will drop and two of the six digital TV channels will be closed. However, the Government’s Spokesperson, Francesc Homs, in charge of public media, said no staff would be laid off.

CNA / Gaspar Pericay Coll

November 25, 2011 09:30 PM

Barcelona (ACN).- On Friday the debate on next year’s austerity measures continued. The Catalan Government announced, before the Parliament of Catalonia’s commission in charge of auditing public media, that its budget contribution for the Catalan public television and radio broadcaster (CCRTV) would be reduced by 13.3% in 2012, which means a drop from €300 million to €260 million. Government Spokesperson, Francesc Homs, who is also in charge of public media, explained that the current number of television channels “cannot be maintained” with the new budget. Homs said that the number of channels will fall from the current six digital TV channels to four, although he did not specify which exactly. The television channels from CCRTV lead the audience share in Catalonia, with a combined figure of around 20%. In addition, their quality is widely recognised in Catalonia. Its main channel, TV3, is extremely popular and it is the main pillar of Catalan media landscape. In fact, the channels of the Catalan public television are the only ones in Catalan language, except for municipal channels that have a marginal audience and 8TV, a private television station that combines Spanish and Catalan. All the other TV channels available in Catalonia are in Spanish or in other languages. This fact gives the Catalan broadcaster an essential cultural role regards the promotion and maintenance of Catalan language, not to speak about the emotional dimension it has for many citizens. In fact, this was the main purpose for TV3’s foundation back in 1983, much earlier than the arrival of private television in Spain and the explosion of public-owned stations at local and regional level throughout the country. The Director of Catalan public television, Mònica Terribas, stated that the Government’s proposal does not correspond with the current TV model she defends. She also said public television is not “another Government department” but that “it competes with a dynamic and flexible private sector”. The President of CCRTV, Enric Marín, concluded that “such an abrupt drop in funds questions the current model”, which will “inevitably” change.

With the financial crisis, the Catalan Government needs to reduce its deficit and total expenditure in order to meet the 1.3% deficit objective in 2012. In 2011, the Government’s contribution to the Catalan public television and radio broadcaster already went from €350 million to €300 million. Nevertheless, in 2012, the Catalan Executive has decided to reduce its share even further, and leave it at €260 million euros. However, no staff would be laid off, according to the Catalan Government’s Spokesperson, although their salaries will be reduced as the rest of public employees.

Less money from advertising as well

The reduction in public funds coincides with a reduction in the commercial money coming from advertising. According to Catalan public television, in 2010, they raised €100 million in advertising. In 2011, they will raise €85 million and in 2012 the projected figure is €84 million.

The current six TV channels

These numbers put the current TV model under stress. Francesc Homs emphasised that the Catalan Government’s aim is to continue with a quality public television, but that they are obliged to reduce their contribution to CCRTV, as they have done elsewhere in the public administration. Homs said that the current number of channels “cannot be maintained” and that it is better to focus only on “four good ones”. This measure would save €6 million, according to Homs. Currently, Catalan public television has six channels: TV3, which is the main channel and is for general information and entertainment; Canal33, which is a cultural station; Super/3xl, which is a channel for children and youngsters; 3/24, the news only channel; the recently created Esports3, focused only in Sports; and the TV3 HD, which is the same as TV3 broadcasting in High Definition.

No money for sports

Nothing has been confirmed on which are the channels to be switched off, but rumours point at the HD channel and Esports3. In fact, Mònica Terribas, said before the Parliament that with the budget figures proposed by the Government, there is no money to cover all the sports competitions, including football and Formula 1. This would leave TV3 without broadcasting FC Barcelona’s games, some of  which are the most viewed programs of the year.