ROBE TV

There is no transparency on television: it is censorship

The Supreme Court's broadcast does not offer any guarantee of the democratic quality of the trial

On Tuesday the broadcast of the trial of the Catalan leaders began late at 10:22 in the morning. In the first two minutes of the livestream we learned that the courtroom is fitted with four cameras. Each one shows the most basic points of view: one frontal view of the judges, which shows the back of the defendants; one which focuses on the defense lawyers; another that shows the prosecution, and finally the most desired by the audience: a general shot that allows you to view the dock with all the political prisoners and defendants.

The first image was a general shot of the magistrates' dais with the president of the court, Justice Manuel Marchena, who had already begun the session. We saw the political prisoners from the back and this increased the audience's suspense to get a frontal view of them. This start was no accident. The fact that the broadcast did not show either the arrival or the exit of all the courtroom staff, nor did it show the entrance and seating of the defendants on their corresponding benches, implies an unnatural nature of the scene. More than being informationally sterile, it was an allegory for the dehumanization of the space and the judicial process itself. Eliminating transitions, interactions between people, and family greetings entails a decontextualization of the defendants and their circumstances.

Hiding reality

The most important aspect of the broadcast of the trial is that it definitely allows us to disprove the thesis that a live broadcast is a guarantee of the transparency of the Spanish judicial system. From the moment that [counsel] Andreu Van den Eynde began with his preliminary questions, the livestream producer stopped doing his job. The Supreme Court assured that it would provide an institutional broadcast, but in trying to create this supposedly informative neutrality, they ended up painting a biased picture of what was going on in the courtroom. The broadcast merely showed a midrange shot of the person speaking. If that lawyer spoke for forty minutes, the mix showed nothing else. We did not see the reactions of the rest of the people in the room. Showing only who is speaking and not showing who is listening is concealing reality and, therefore, the broadcast did not offer any guarantee of the democratic quality of the trial. For example: if while one of the defense lawyers is speaking, and we see it in a fixed midrange shot, one of the magistrates left the room or fell asleep, or a prosecutor killed time by playing Candy Crush or a [far-right] Vox lawyer made some disrespectful gestures or showed contempt for the defendants, we will not be able to see it.

The guarantees of a trial do not only lie with those who have the floor, but also with the listeners, in the behavior of the people who intervene and, of course, the political prisoners' reactions to all that is said during their trial. What they have created is an absurd television program because it does not take into account pictures, only the sound. Transparency is about showing, not hiding. They have mistaken an institutional broadcast with censorship, which, if you think about it, is nothing new in the judicial system that we have seen up to now.