The Catalan Public TV & Radio Broadcaster’s budget drops from €348 million to €296 million - 17% less
The Catalan Government’s grant will be reduced by 14% and revenue from advertising is expected to decrease by 10%. The budget reduction has been approved with loud protests from the workers, since it will mostly affect labour costs, which may plummet by 18%. Since 2010, the production and investment budget has dropped by 50%. The Catalan Public Television Broadcaster’s main station, TV3, has been clearly leading audience rankings in Catalonia for most of the years since its creation in 1983. The majority of the political parties and citizens in Catalonia support strong public television and radio stations. The idea of reducing the TV3 budget has been constantly presented by Spanish nationalists as the way to reduce Catalonia’s public deficit despite the €225 million public grant only representing 5% of the total budget adjustment to be accomplished in 2013.
Barcelona (ACN).- The Board of the Catalan Public Television and Radio Broadcaster (CCMA) has approved the budget for 2013, with a total reduction of 17%, dropping from €348.2 million to €295.9 million. Now, the budget will have to be approved by the Catalan Parliament together with the Catalan Government’s 2013 budget, the approval of which has been delayed due to the last elections and the controversy regarding deficit targets. However, the Left-Wing Catalan Independence Party (ERC), which gives parliamentary support to the governing Centre-Right Catalan Nationalist Coalition (CiU), has already stated that this budget “dismantles” the institution. The Catalan Socialist Party (PSC) has also considered it being too low. If finally approved, it will be the third consecutive year the CCMA has reduced its budget. The CCMA Board is expecting the Catalan Government to reduce the public grant allocated to the public television and radio by 14% this year. In addition, they expect advertising revenue will decrease by 10% as a consequence of the economic recession and the sector crisis of the advertising industry – whose volume has been halved since 2008. The CCMA budget reduction proposal has been approved with loud protests from the workers, since it will mostly affect labour costs, which may plummet by 18%. Since 2010, as the Board noted, the CCMA’s production and investment budget has dropped by 50%. In fact, a recent study showed that the cost of the CCMA has been reduced from 50 to 34 euros per citizen per year over the last three years, one of the lowest in the field at European level.
The CCMA leads Catalonia’s audiovisual market
The Catalan Public Television Broadcaster’s main station, TV3, has clearly led audience rankings in Catalonia for many years since its creation in 1983. The private sector Mediaset channels, broadcasting exclusively in Spanish, come second in Catalonia with twice the TV3 budget. In addition, TV3 is one of the very few television broadcasters to use the Catalan language, apart from local stations, and it has played an essential role in normalising the use of the Catalan language following the persecution during Franco’s dictatorship. Therefore TV3 is very important to many citizens who feel particularly attached to the station. Regarding Catalonia’s main public radio station, Catalunya Ràdio led the market until a few years ago, when a private radio station also broadcasting in Catalan, RAC1, took the leader’s position. However, Catalunya Ràdio is the second most followed radio station and the group’s stations are among the most popular ones.
A target for Spanish nationalist attacks
For all these reasons, the majority of the political parties and citizens in Catalonia support the CCMA, defending strong public television and radio stations. Moreover, the idea of reducing the CCMA budget has been constantly presented by Spanish nationalists as the way to reduce Catalonia’s public deficit, together with eliminating the Catalan Government’s external action offices (called “Catalan embassies” by Spanish nationalists). However, the public grant to the CCMA and the expenditure of the so-called Catalan embassies will result in less than €250 million in 2013, 5.5% of the total €4.5 billion adjustment currently imposed by the Spanish Government on the Catalan Executive’s budget for this year. Therefore, if the “Catalan embassies” were shut down and the CCMA grant was totally eliminated – condemning TV3 and Catalunya Ràdio to shut down business – there would still be 94.5% of the adjustment to be made, representing more than €4.2 billion. This drastic solution would be far from solving the Catalan Government’s deficit for 2013 and it would go against the democratic will of Catalonia's citizen majority and end a 30-year project.
The Catalan Government’s grant is expected to be reduced by 14%
Out of the CCMA’s €295.4 million budget, €288.4 million correspond to the 2013 budget while €7.5 million are to pay for the deficit of 2012. Revenue will come from three sides. Firstly the Catalan Government’s grant of €225 million, 14% less than in 2012. Secondly, the CCMA Board expects to cash in €60.5 million from advertising, 10% less than in 2012 due to the economic recession and the crisis in the sector. Finally, the rest of the revenue (production sales, merchandising, etc.) will represent €9.4 million, 18% less than last year.
Protests from the workers
After the budget approval, the Board President, Brauli Duart and the rest of members have met with representatives of the workers to explain the budget guidelines to them and to ask them for a “dialogue”. They told them that current revenue will drop by 17% and labour costs by 18%. In addition, they emphasised that production costs and investments had decreased by 50% since 2010. However, the workers unions have been protesting in Catalonia with several demonstrations over the last few days for recent restructurings and for the worsening of working conditions, including today. In fact, the Public Television Broadcaster workers went on a partial strike this morning and will go on a second strike tomorrow.