The regional ones reinvent themselves to adapt to the new television ecosystem created by Netflix | TV | The USA Print

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Victorio Pérez, presenter of 'One hour less' on Canarian Television, explains in 2021 with augmented reality the eruption of the La Palma volcano.
Victorio Pérez, presenter of ‘One hour less’ on Canarian Television, explains in 2021 with augmented reality the eruption of the La Palma volcano.RTVC

The regional public broadcaster wants to continue playing a relevant role in the new and changing Spanish audiovisual scene, which is why it is immersed in a process of change towards innovation and the digitization of its channels. This was explained by the president of the Federation of Autonomous Radio and Television Organizations or Entities (FORTA), Andoni Aldekoa, in a recent meeting with the press held in May.

The institution brings together 12 corporations and some of them, such as the Basque ETB and the Catalan TV3, are about to celebrate their 40th anniversary. “We started as radio and television stations, but now we are groups that include digital publications and on-demand television,” recalls its manager.

In the month of April 2022, the regional ones have reached an 8.3% share of the screen, the same figure as La 1 de Televisión Española. Its objectives in the face of this new reality go through the veracity and quality of information in the era of fake news —that is why they are already working to create an information verification tool— and the decentralization of information. Also for reacting to the irruption of OTT platforms, such as Netflix and HBO Max, and “a fragmentation of the media that has broken the hegemonies of the past”, says Aldekoa. All of this will be faced with a focus on the processing of the controversial and complex General Audiovisual Law, which, in her opinion, “it is good that it is updated and that it should generate certainty for the sector.”

Aldekoa summoned the media to make a defense of the value provided by the regional ones, “which are a guarantee of access to information and closeness”. The pandemic “has repositioned and strengthened” Forta and “has been a demonstration of what public and regional broadcasting can contribute” to state information by “having been that transmission chain for more global information.” Another example of this was last year’s award-winning coverage of the Canarian regional network —National Television Award 2022— during the eruption of the La Palma volcano, which distributed information free of charge to other national and international media. Or, as will happen shortly, the poll for the Andalusian elections on June 19, which will be prepared by Canal Sur to be shared with RTVE, assures the general secretary of La Forta, Enrique Laucirica.

Andoni Aldekoa, president of Forta.
Andoni Aldekoa, president of Forta.

To maintain this level of influence, Aldekoa is committed to investing a large part of its resources in innovation with the aim of adapting to the rapid transformation of digital environments. In the coming weeks, the institution will specify the plan it is drawing up for these 12 corporations to transform “both in the technological aspect and in content.” Laucirica recalls that “the metrics recorded by audiences are obsolete. All audiovisual needs a renovation to value all these new uses of the viewer.

For Aldekoa, the role of these regional channels in creating an audiovisual industry that is also less centralized is also very relevant. Alfonso Blanco, founder of the Galician production company Portocabo, highlighted to this newspaper a few days ago the importance of fiction series continuing to exist in regional ones, whether daily or weekly, that receive new talent and serve as a counterpoint to the proliferation of large audiovisual projects that are promoting the platforms of streaming. The regional ones invest a minimum of 6% of their annual income in film production, as established in the General Audiovisual Communication Law (LGCA). Fiction in film and television, in the words of the president of la Forta, “is a great element for generating stories about the territories, for transmitting what we are”. The problem for Aldekoa is that the regional ones have a “relative” financial capacity at a time when fiction is sometimes beginning to have budgets higher than those of cinema.

An image from the second season of 'Auga seca' (Dry water), from Galician television, which can be seen worldwide through HBO Max.
An image from the second season of ‘Auga seca’ (Dry water), from Galician television, which can be seen worldwide through HBO Max.

The resources available to the Spanish public media are practically half of what they have in the rest of Europe. In the case of the autonomous communities, the difference is even greater compared to their equivalents in Belgium and Germany. As a study by the University of Santiago de Compostela (USC) points out, the financing of regional radio stations in Spain has dropped from 38 euros per inhabitant in 2011 to 27 euros per capita in 2019 (latest data available), compared to at 72 of its equivalent in Belgium and 84 of those in Germany.

Faced with the continuous criticism received by regional governments such as Telemadrid, due to the influence of the successive regional governments of the Popular Party in its management, Aldekoa explains that improving public governance is always a challenge, although it recalls the high levels of monitoring and control that have the public media. Even so, he avoids evaluating Vox’s position, contrary to the existence of regional networks, despite the fact that the far-right party is already part of a regional government thanks to its alliances with the PP.

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