A year ago, the group of regional television stations exceeded La 1 in audience for the first time. It has not happened again, but the difference is usually just a few tenths. In April itself there was a tie with an 8.3% audience share; some figures that are due to the pothole of the main channel of Spanish Television (TVE), but also to some winds that for several years have been blowing in favor of the Federation of Autonomous Radio and Television Organizations (FORTA).
Events such as a pandemic, a storm or a volcanic eruption have shown that citizens continue to turn to regional television, radio and internet information and that the local media have, more than ever, much to say.
Some of these news programs far exceed the private and national competition. The Basque radio and television, EITB, celebrates its 40th anniversary this month. The Ministry of Culture and Sports has awarded this 2022 the National Television Award to Radio Televisión Canaria.
Still, the general secretary of FORTA, Enrique Laucirica, complains of a certain forgetfulness within the sector when its contribution to generating an industry and content is at the same level as Radio Televisión Española (RTVE), with which they are collaborating on a news verification project. Laucirica even boasts of “being ahead of state public television” in areas such as film production, especially independent, giving professionals a first chance. There is almost always a regional channel in the credits of these films.
“We are important in our territories”, affirms the president of FORTA and general director of EITB Andoni Aldekoa. The collaboration between the regional ones is not only about content (a few years ago, Telemadrid and ETB co-produced the miniseries ‘The victim number 8’), but also about technology. Aldekoa believes that it is a key moment for the public media with the new Audiovisual Law, still pending. For him, several elements must be taken into account: the irruption of platforms such as Netflix, the fragmentation of consumption (live, recorded, on demand…) and the need for good, truthful information.
Collaboration with the platforms is precisely a way of moving regional fictions forward, which get better financing and a larger window, since it reaches all parts of the country (and even abroad, like ‘Merlí’, on TV3). It is not just a question of money, because the locations and the interpretations are an addition. Canal Sur (Andalusia) has ‘Unknown’, À Punt (Valencian Community) continues with ‘L’Alqueria Blanca’ and on IB3 (Balearic Islands) it has just finished, after three seasons, ‘Pep’. «Fiction is a great element to generate stories of what we are», adds the president of FORTA. The problem -he continues- is that now making television fiction is even more expensive than making movies.
The FORTA grills, boasts its president, are unique, as they are an example of the diversity of Spain in terms of languages, cultures, heritage, customs and even economies. On regional television, for example, space is given to rural sports. Canal Sur, through its recently launched platform, broadcast more than thirty processions during the last Holy Week (Aragón TV, one of the most watched channels, dared years ago with this concept called ‘slow television’).
Because one of the objectives of FORTA is not to be caught by the bull: innovation, both in the technology they use and in the formats they produce. Its president believes that there could be a powerful audiovisual industry for each region: “Spanish is a great opportunity to generate content.” For Andoni Aldekoa, the future of the economy lies in the television industry (Netflix chose Spain for its European production).
The president of FORTA recognizes that generalist television is losing space in the face of the subject, but considers that the health of the regional ones is good: «Our content is very clearly defined: local, regional. The pandemic has made us stronger. There has been a great demand for information.”