PP, Ciudadanos got the most airtime on Catalan TV news between September and December

Catalan media watchdog CAC says Catalunya Ràdio and TV3 were the most pluralistic news outlets in Catalonia

In the last quarter of 2018 the PP and Ciudadanos were the two political parties that received the most airtime on TV3’s news programmes [TV3 is the main channel of Catalan public TV]. That is the conclusion reached by the CAC —Catalonia’s media watchdog— in its report on political pluralism for that period, a quarter which saw the first anniversary of the independence referendum, a Spanish cabinet meeting in Barcelona on December 21 and ongoing talks between the Catalan government and its Spanish counterpart to establish a framework for dialogue.

According to the survey, the PP got 9.9 per cent of the total airtime given to political party news on TV3’s daily news programmes, while Ciudadanos’ share was 9.7 per cent. They were followed by PDECat and Junts per Catalunya (a combined 7.8 per cent), ERC (7.6 per cent), the PSC (6.4 per cent), Catalunya en Comú plus Podemos (5.6 per cent), and the CUP (2 per cent). Vox, [Spain’s far-right hopeful], got 2.5 per cent of the overall airtime on TV3’s scheduled news programmes. However, the governments were the political actors that received the most attention: the Catalan executive led by Quim Torra had the floor 21.2 per cent of the time and PM Pedro Sánchez’s, 14.6 per cent.

As a matter of fact, the two governments were the political bodies that received the most attention on the news programmes of the five radio and TV networks monitored by the CAC (TV3, Catalunya Ràdio, RAC1, 8TV and TVE Catalunya). Out of the political parties, the PP topped the chart in all but TVE (where it came second after Ciudadanos), with 14 per cent on 8TV and 11.3 per cent on RAC1. Ciudadanos, led by Albert Rivera, ranked second on 8TV and RAC1 (both Grup Godó private media outlets) as well as TV3, but dropped to the fourth place on Catalunya Ràdio, trailing behind PDECat/JxCat and ERC.

Catalonia’s CAC began publishing quarterly reports on pluralism at the beginning of 2018. Prior to that reports had been written on a monthly basis. The previous survey (May through August 2018) had also indicated that, out of all the political parties, the PP and Ciudadanos were the ones that received the most airtime on TV3, the Catalan public broadcaster.

Catalunya Ràdio is the most plural news outlet

In terms of the political actors (parties and governments) that received airtime from news outlets in Catalonia, Catalunya Ràdio recorded the highest number: up to 33 different groups featured on their news bulletins. TV3 came second, with 30, followed by RAC1 (28), 8TV (27) and TVE Catalunya (22). The CAC report points out that news programmes on the Catalan Public Broadcasting Corporation [CCMA in Catalan] are longer than on the other media, so it is easier to include a wider range of political voices. On this point, CAC councillor Daniel Sirera cast a separate vote against the report because, among other reasons, he felt that “you cannot argue that TV3 is the outlet that offered the widest range of views in that period, unless you put that statement into its proper context”. Sirera mentioned that TV3 devotes more airtime to news than the other networks and he remarked that every news organisation monitored for the report “allows every political actor” represented in the Catalan parliament “to voice their views”. Sirera added that “it is wrong to claim, as you might conclude by reading the report, that the other news outlets studied are less diligent when it comes to guaranteeing political pluralism”. Mr Sirera went on to say that, among the political groups that have spoken on TV3, there were “a member of CORI, an independent MP in the Valencian parliament and another in the European parliament, plus a representative of EAJ-PNV [a Basque nationalist party]”.

As for interviews with political leaders in the last quarter of 2018, it was TV3 that broadcast the highest number, covering the broadest political spectrum: 233 interviews with representatives of up to 35 different political groups, with the Catalan government receiving the most attention (40), as well as the political parties: ERC (21), PDECat/JxCat (21) and CUP (18). Catalunya Ràdio interviewed 119 politicians from 23 different groups and RAC1 aired 119 interviews with 24 political actors, followed by news channel 3/24 (102 interviews with 23 groups), 8TV (62/19) and TVE Catalunya (20/13). The CAC has also studied the political debates broadcast in this period and it has concluded that Catalunya Ràdio held the largest number (10) and with the widest range of political actors (12), followed by TV3 (10 groups in 6 debates) and 3/24 (a single debate with MPs of the seven groups that are present in the Catalan chamber). TVE Catalunya only offered a single face-off debate between Ciudadanos and the PSC, while 8TV and RAC1 held none at all.

Another aspect included in the report is the number of events held by parties or political institutions that were broadcast live (wholly or in part) by every news organisation. 3/24 and TV3 are, by far, the clear leaders in this category, with 237 and 138 events respectively. In both cases Catalan government events predominated, followed by those held by the Spanish government, the Spanish parliament and the Catalan chamber. As for the political parties, Ciudadanos tops the chart, with 14 broadcasts on 3/24 and 7 on TV3.

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