The Valencian Government stops Catalan Television broadcasts in Valencia

For many Catalan speakers in Valencia, the measure is a clear attack against their linguistic rights. The Valencian Government created a law foreseeing harsh fines per every day of emissions. The Spanish Supreme Court is to decide on the matter, but meanwhile the emissions had to stop yesterday after 25 years of broadcasting.

CNA / José Soler / Gaspar Pericay Coll

February 18, 2011 09:06 PM

València (ACN).- The battle for the language continues in the Valencian Community (or ‘Valencian Country’, as it has been historically called). The People’s Party ruling the Community’s Government decided to take the fight even further and has obliged to end all emissions of the Catalan Public TV (TV3) in the territory. This measure is part of an absurd fight that has been going on for the last 30 years. Valencian regionalism allied with Spanish Nationalism to defend that Valencian is a separate language than Catalan and thus wanting to break the unity of the Catalan language. This politically motivated decision goes against the criteria of all the universities (including all the universities in València), the Spanish court’s decisions and the rule of the “Valencian Language Academy”, which was created by the Valencian Government to split the language unity but whose first ruling was precisely to reaffirm that Valencian and Catalan were the same language. In fact, Valencian is part of the Catalan language, as English spoken in the US and English spoken in England are, despite their dialectic differences. It is the same equivalent with Spanish from Madrid and Spanish from Andalucía, or Spanish from Spain and Spanish from Mexico. They are all part of the same Spanish language, which has many different dialects. Valencian is one of the dialects of Catalan, like other dialects such as the Catalan spoken in Majorca, the one spoken in Lleida or the Catalan from Barcelona.

A long war

Yesterday, the Association Acció cultural del País Valencià (“Cultural Action of the Valencian Country”) lost a battle. This civil society association promotes the Catalan culture and the use of the Catalan language in the Valencian autonomous community, in whatever Catalan dialect. 25 years ago, in 1986, this association installed in Valencian territory TV repeaters to ensure the broadcasting of the Catalan Public Television (TV3) in the Valencian Community. In this territory, around 40% of its inhabitants have Catalan/Valencian as their mother tongue, and in some concrete towns or counties, they are the vast majority. At the time, TV3 was the only TV broadcasting in Catalan within Spain. It was thus the only way Catalan speakers in València could enjoy TV programmes in their mother tongue. When the Valencian Public TV started broadcasting in October 1989, combining programmes in Catalan and others in Spanish, Acció cultural del País Valencià and the Valencian Government quarrelled about the TV frequency. By the way, the Valencian Public TV could be seen in parts of Catalonia, Aragon, and Castilla-la-Mancha, without any complaints.

However, the disputes increased and became more agressive from the mid 1990s onwards, when the People’s Party (PP) took over the power in Valencia. The PP, Spanish nationalist and anti-Catalan nationalist, carried on with the alliance with Valencian regionalism it already started in the 1970s, during the Spanish transition. The PP and Valencian regionalism thought, and still think, that Catalonia and Catalan language are a threat to their local power. If Catalan cultural unity is broken, their influence in the Valencia Community will be stronger, Catalan nationalism will be weaker and Spanish nationalism stronger. Accordingly, when the PP arrived at the Valencian Government, they wanted to stop the emissions of TV3 in Valencia and wanted to declare Valencian to be a separate language from Catalan. They launched a true language war. For instance, the Valencian Government created the “Valencian Academy of the Language” in 1998, with the hope they would declare that Valencian was actually a different language. However, the academics, who were,university researchers and experts in philology, came to an unanimous decision and stated that Valencian was part of the Catalan language. The Valencian Government ignored the expert conclusion and continued with its particular language war. Another example: for political and electoral reasons, they forced the Spanish Government to include among its publication languages Valencian as a separate language than Catalan, increasing the translations costs. For instance, when the European Union wanted to approve the European Constitution, the Valencian Government did not recognise the official translation wrote in Catalan from Barcelona and forced to have one in Valencian. To preserve the language unity, the Catalan Government accepted the Valencian translation has the official Catalan translation.

The quarrels on both issues are still ongoing, in an absurd and mean fight, making politics overruling science and the linguistic rights of the Catalan speakers in Valencia. On top of this, many of the PP and Valencian regionalism supporters have the Spanish language as their mother tongue and they barely speak what the language they call Valencian.

Closing TV3 emissions

In the last few years, all the efforts by the Valencian Government ruled by the People’s Party (PP) and lead by Francisco Camps, who is persecuted by courts for corruption scandals, is to stop the Catalan Public TV’s emissions. In 2007, the Valencian Government already closed and sealed 3 TV repeaters, according to a previous law that considers the repeaters as illegal, in an indirect way of making the emissions impossible. Acció cultural del País Valencià (ACPV) already paid a first fine of 126,943.90 euros, but it has 2 pending fines of 300,000 euros each, summing 600,000 euros. However, 3 other TV repeaters continued with the emissions. ACPV filed several judicial complaints, which are now to be decided by the Spanish Supreme court. In parallel, ACPV started getting signatures for a popular legislative initiative at Spanish level to guarantee these emissions. More than 600,000 signatures were compiled in the Valencian Community. The Spanish Government has had this initiative currently blocked, on stand-by, waiting for a decision of the Spanish Parliament’s Bureau. Madrid politicians are afraid to take this decision as they could lose votes from Spanish nationalists.

With the introduction of the Terrestrial Digital TV, the Catalan and Valencian Governments negotiated a reciprocity agreement, according to which both public TVs could be seen in both Autonomous Communities. However, the Valencian Government never actually respected the agreement.

Yesterday, the Acció cultural del País Valencià had to stop the TV signal of the Catalan Public Television (TV3) in the Valencia Community (23,255 square kilometres and more than 5 millions of inhabitants) because of the entering into force of a new law created ad-hoc by the Valencian Governmment. The new Valencian law on the audiovisual sector foresees fines of 60,000 euros per every two weeks of emissions. The Valencian Government’s strategy is to provoke the economic asphyxia of this civil society organisation. Besides, the Valencian Government communicated to the Acció Cultural del País Valencià (ACPV) that they still have to pay old fines from 2007, amounting 600,000 euros. ACPV has to pay this sum before the next 20th of March; in case of not doing so, their accounts and assets will be seized. As the civil society association ACPV cannot face all these sums, they are forced to close the TV repeaters and stop broadcasting TV3 signal. 25 years of broadcasting the Catalan Public TV end. The Valencian Public TV, which broadcasts in Spanish and Catalan and is ruled by the Valencian Government, will be the only TV in Catalan in the Valencian Community. Maybe with this measure they will be able to increase its 10% of audience share. Millions in advertising may be won. And local and regional elections are due in 3 months.

The ACPV public statement

ACPV held a public press conference today. They clearly accused the Valencian President Francisco Camps of persecuting them and creating laws ad-hoc in order to be able to asphyxiate them. However, ACPV chairman, Eliseu Climent, stated that “the history of TV3 at the Valencian Country is not over yet”. Climent said that the Spanish Supreme Court has to still decide on the matter. He insisted that “if necessary”, they will appeal to the European institutions. Climent also added that the Valencian Government is using this closing measure to stop TV3 informing freely about the corruption cases affecting the Valencian President, Francisco Camps, and leading members of the People’s Party (PP).