Catalonia’s public TV network (TV3) has come under fire by unionist parties for its alleged pro-independence bias, but evidence refutes such claims. Catalonia’s Media Standards Council (1) has survey political talk shows on TV in Catalonia and Spain over a twenty-day period, zeroing in on their guests’ political position on the October 1 independence referendum. The data analysed by this newspaper proves that Catalonia’s TV3 showed the greatest political plurality, whereas Spanish TV networks such as Telecinco and TVE’s 24 Horas did not feature a single guest who endorsed the notion that the vote on independence was either legal or legitimate.
Specifically, on TV3’s political talk shows 55,4 per cent of the opinions voiced argued that the vote was legal and legitimate, while 38,6 per cent rejected both claims. The remaining 6 per cent were pundits who stated that the referendum was legitimate, but not lawful. This is in stark contrast with the figures for the other general interest, public TV network, Spain’s La 1 (TVE): 97.9 per cent of their guests opined that the referendum was neither legal nor legitimate, while only 2.1 per cent viewed the Catalan vote as lawful or legitimate.
Antena 3, a private Spanish TV network (Atresmedia), scored along the same lines as La 1: displaying a clear unionist bias. To be precise, 97.3 per cent of all opinions about the October 1 referendum on Antena 3 denied that it was a lawful, legitimate vote, with only 2.7 per cent sitting at the other end of the spectrum. The Spanish TV station that provided the most balanced view was La Sexta, where 77.5 per cent of pundits opposed the referendum while 15 per cent endorsed it and the remaining 7.5 per cent felt that the vote was legitimate but unlawful.
Catalonia’s CAC also surveyed the news-only Catalan TV station, Canal 3/24, which featured the largest number of pro-referendum voices (66.7 per cent), with 28.6 per cent who were critical about the independence vote and 4.8 per cent who argued that it was legitimate but unlawful. Finally, the report provides some figures for TVE’s Catalonia-only channel, which are more balanced than for the same public broadcaster’s Spain-wide TV network: 64.7 per cent of their pundits denied that the vote was legal and legitimate (vs. 31.4 per cent who claimed the opposite) and 3.9 per cent felt that it was merely legitimate.
The survey was conducted by monitoring 125 political talk shows and special broadcasts on Spanish and Catalan TV stations between September 11th and 30th. The project received the unanimous approval of the CAC, with only a caveat from Daniel Sirera, the councillor whose name was suggested by the PP. Cirera criticised that fact that the CAC had surveyed new outlets which lie outside its purview, such as Spain-wide TV networks. “In contrast”, he said, “the survey did not analyse Catalan media such as 8TV Catalunya Ràdio and RAC1”.
(1) Catalonia’s Consell Audiovisual —or Media Standards Council— is a quasi-autonomous non-governmental body tasked with overseeing broadcasting standards.