COMMUNICATION-SOCIETY.COM VERSIÓN EN ESPAÑOL
Comunicación y Sociedad Universidad de Navarra | Facultad de Comunicación
USER AREA
Username: Password:
Ok Sign inForgot your password?
GoogleINSIDE C&S Ok

Calidad Revistas Científicas Españolas
VOL.
31(3)/
2018
Author / Ana AZURMENDI Associate Professor. Department of Public Communication. University of Navarra, Spain
Author / Mercedes MUÑOZ SALDAÑA Associate Professor. Department of Public Communication. University of Navarra, Spain.
Author / Félix ORTEGA MOHEDANO Associate Professor. Department of Sociology and Communication. University of Salamanca, Spain.
More authors:  1 2 3
Article / Civic Participation and Independence from Political Power: two requirements of Public Service Broadcasters in Spain
Contents /

1. Introduction, Goals and Methods

In March 2014, Germany’s Federal Constitutional Court ruled that Länder (state) governments had “too much weight in public radio and television” and that each public service media company in the Länder had to change the members on their broadcasting councils. In accordance with the Interstate Broadcasting Agreement of 1991 (Staatsvertrag für Rundfunk und Telemedien), these councils meet in plenary sessions and their function is to represent viewers’ interests, guarantee internal plurality and ensure a balance of interests (Kleinsteuber, 2010). However, the Constitutional Court´s decision stated that the broadcasting councils of German public service broadcasters were overly politicized, despite being regulated by law.

This is an example of the difficulty of ensuring that public service broadcasters (PSBs) are independent from political power and of how the democratic-constitutional system can be used to try to achieve this. In fact, the challenge of guaranteeing the independence of public service broadcasters is shared by many other European countries and Spain is no exception (Almirón, Capurro & Santcovsky, 2010, p. 205).

A number of European institutions (European Parliament, 2013; European Commission, 2016 and 2007; Council of Europe, 2011) and academics (Humphreys, 2016; Bustamante, 2016; Hortz, 2016; Fernández Alonso & Fernández Viso, 2012b; Iosifidis, 2011) have highlighted the essential role played by independence from political power in guaranteeing that public service broadcasters comply with their mission of providing a public service. Although independence may develop in many different areas (governance, funding, organization and control), some experts (Hortz, 2016; Hasebrink, 2012; Carpentier, 2011) have indicated that another way of achieving this objective is by using the decisive influence of another specific factor: civic engagement in the decision-making of public service media outlets.

In this context, the research study was carried out with the following objectives:

-          To obtain evidence of demand from citizens (young people and adults) for the independence of Spanish public service broadcasters and of citizen assessment of the level of independence of these broadcasters.

-          To obtain evidence of citizen perception of:      opportunities to participate in the governance of public service broadcasters and their use of channels of participation.

-          To analyse the relationship between public participation in the decision-making bodies of public service broadcasters (as a governance tool) and the reputation of those broadcasters.

The work method involved carrying out a quantitative study (the survey) and a documentary-structural analysis of the Spanish national public service broadcaster and the 10 regional public service broadcasters to be able to take the third methodological step of finding a correlation between the independence of these public service broadcasters and their reputation, as backed by evidence in both cases. To this end:

-       We carried out a field study with the support of the Qualtrics research platform on a random sample of 1,000 people selected with quotas for age, gender and autonomous community (region) in cities with more than 10,000 inhabitants, including young people and adults from all regions except for the autonomous cities of Ceuta and Melilla). The survey was taken in April-May 2017.

-       We studied existing channels for civic engagement in Spanish public service broadcasters, i.e. companies with an Advisory Board in which viewers participate or are at least represented: the Spanish Radio and Television Corporation (Corporación de Radio y Televisión Española, RTVE), Catalan Media Corporation (Corporación Catalana de Medios Audiovisuales, CCMA), Radio and Television of Andalusia (Radio y Televisión de Andalucía, RTVA), Castilla-La Mancha Media (Radiotelevisión de Castilla-La Mancha, RTVCM), Radio and Television of the Balearic Islands (Radiotelevisión de las Islas Baleares, IB3), Radio and Television Corporation of Galicia (Corporación de Radio y Televisión de Galicia, CRTVG), Radio and Television of the Principality of Asturias (Radio y Televisión del Principado de Asturias, RTPA), Radio and Television of the Canary Islands (Radio Televisión Canaria, RTVC), Aragon Radio and Television Corporation (Corporación Aragonesa de Radio y Televisión, CART), Canal Extremadura Television and Telemadrid.

-       Based on the classification of public service broadcasters used by Fernández Alonso (2012) and that of the European Audiovisual Observatory (2016) on their independence and credibility, we aimed to determine if the broadcasters where civic participation included decision-making or executive competences in governance were the ones with the highest levels of public credibility and independence from political power.

 

2. Qualtrics surveys on the civic engagement, independence from political power and reputation of Spanish public service broadcasters, i.e. RTVE and regional broadcasters

The fieldwork was based on a 39-item survey. It was distributed randomly using the Qualtrics platform through associate online panels in Spain in collaboration of ESOMAR-Qualtrics for analysis of data quality. The sample was designed with proportional quotas calculated based on National Census Statistics of 1 January 2017 and 2016-2031 population projections from the National Statistics Institute. Our target population consisted of individuals over 14 years of age distributed in proportional, representative, calculated quotas for gender, age and income in all Spanish regions. The autonomous cities of Ceuta and Melilla were excluded and only taken into account in the calculation of cities with over 10,000 inhabitants. The survey was carried out on 6 April and 8 May 2017, and a total of 1,095 responses was received. After sample selection quality control, with responses screened out based on time factors and quality control for coherence, we finally accepted 1,000 valid surveys.

Of the 39 survey questions, we have analysed the 12 directly related to the objectives of this study. In the survey (Appendix 1), see Q. 6, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 25, 33, 34, 35, 36 and 37, as well as a full analysis of the responses in Appendix 2.

 

2.1. Need for public television and viewer satisfaction

To provide some context for the questions on the independence of Spanish public service broadcasters (PSBs), we analysed the results of the survey from two perspectives: the actual need for these PSBs and the level of viewer satisfaction with these broadcasters. Respondents were asked to indicate how much they agreed with a number of statements on these topics.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Table 1. Q. 6        Please indicate your level of agreement or disagreement with the following statements about the National Public Service Broadcaster (PSB) and Regional Public Service Broadcaster (PSB): totally disagree; disagree; doesn’t matter; agree; totally agree

 

 

 

Figure 1. Perception of the need for the Public Service Broadcaster: “The National Public Service Broadcaster (PSB) is necessary”.



 

A large majority (68.9% of respondents) said that the national PSB was necessary, compared to a very small percentage of respondents (4.3%) who disagreed or strongly disagreed (5.3%). The percentages varied depending on the regional public service broadcaster. The survey included a question expressing a negative opinion (Please indicate your level of agreement or disagreement with the statement “The Regional Public Service Broadcaster is not necessary”). A question expressing a negative opinion about the national public service broadcaster was not included because there was no climate of opinion in this direction, unlike the situation with the regional public service broadcasters (Miguel de Bustos, 2012: 27).

 

 

Figure 2. Perception of the need for the Regional Public Service Broadcaster: “Regional Public Service Television (RPSB) is not necessary”

 

 

Nearly half of all respondents (41.5%) disagreed with the statement, whereas almost one third (29.5%) agreed. At the same time, a very similar percentage (29%) said they neither agreed or disagreed, a position which could, bearing in mind the wording of the question and the leading opinion at the time, be interpreted as non-opposition to the existence of the regional PSB. The combined group of respondents who disagreed with the statement or who neither agreed nor disagreed represented about 70% of the total, i.e. an overwhelming majority accepted the existence of the regional PSBs. This is a significant result in light of the perspective taken by most of the news items in the media on the topic, especially online and print media outlets.

Besides the perceived need for PSBs, this section also examined the level of viewer satisfaction with the activity of these PSBs. Response to the statement, “I am satisfied with the service delivered by the National Public Service Broadcaster (PSB)” indicated that the majority of respondents (50.3%) said they were satisfied, whereas slightly more than one fourth (26.1%) indicated their dissatisfaction. Once again, a high percentage (23.6%) said they neither agreed nor disagreed.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Figure 3. Satisfaction with the service delivered by the National Public Service Broadcaster.

 

 

The question on viewer satisfaction with the regional PSB showed relevant variations compared to the results for the national PSB: fewer respondents were satisfied with the regional PSB (39.9% compared to 50.3% for the national PSB); more viewers were dissatisfied (30% compared to 26.1%); and the percentage of viewers who were neither satisfied nor dissatisfied was also higher (32.1% compared to 23.6%).

 

 

Figure 4. Satisfaction with the service delivered by the Regional Public Service Broadcaster.

 

 

2.2 Call for the independence of public service broadcasters, especially in terms of politics

This research study shows that the majority of people viewed independence as one of the most important attributes of both the national and regional PSBs. More than half of respondents (53.9%) said that independence was more of a priority than impartiality, pluralism and neutrality, whereas slightly more than one fourth (26.4%) said they thought independence was important, but not as important as those other attributes.

 

 

Table 2. Q. 13 Among the PSB’s core attributes (impartiality, pluralism, neutrality, etc.), where do you rank the concept of independence?: Priority; Important, but secondary; Not important; Irrelevant; I do not have an opinion

 

Figure 5. Assessment of principle of Independence

 

 

Despite this overwhelming opinion regarding independence and the percentages obtained, an analysis of the other percentages qualifies this result. When the respondents were asked to indicate in percentages the importance of the values of impartiality, pluralism, neutrality and independence, the results for impartiality (31%) and neutrality (25%) were higher than those for independence (22%). These four concepts are very similar, though each refers to a different aspect of PSBs.

Impartiality is generally applied to information. Impartial information is understood to be found in news items that provide only an account of all the newsworthy facts and that do not have an underlying political agenda that determines what items are published and from which perspective. Neutrality is used more often to refer to a non-partisan stance, i.e. the lack of political partisanship. From this perspective, it is closer to the notion of political independence).

Table 3. Q. 14 Please rank the importance of the following core attributes of the Public Service Broadcaster as a percentage: Impartiality; Pluralism; Neutrality; Independence; Other (please indicate)

 

 

 

Figure 6. Distribution in percentages of the core attributes of the Public Service Broadcaster ranked from 0 (least value) to 100 (maximum value). Means of the responses obtained from 1,000 respondents

 

 

This interpretation is corroborated by the results of Question 15, given that the option with the highest score in the question (“What concepts do you connect with independence when talking about the independence of the Public Service Broadcaster? Please indicate the importance, where 0 is not important and 100 is very important”) was independence from political parties in television governance (67.8 out of 100). Therefore, the most important item ranked in the call for the independence of PSBs was the demand that PSBs be independent from political parties. In second place (66.2 out of 100) was the notion that PSBs should maintain editorial independence, an attribute that is the result of independence from political parties in television governance. In third place was financial independence (55.8 out of 100), which can be interpreted as a criticism of the current public funding system of PSBs.

 

Table 4. Q. 15 What concepts do you connect with independence when talking about the independence of the Public Service Broadcaster? Please indicate the importance, where 0 is not important and 100 is very important: Financial independence; Independence of PSB Governance: independence from Political Parties; Independence in the Approach to Information and Content Policy

 

 

Figure 7. Public Service Broadcaster Independence Concepts, from 0 (least important) to 100 (most important). Means of the responses obtained from 1,000 respondents

 

 

2.3 Perception of the lack of independence of PSBs and private media outlets

After analysing citizens’ assessment and strong demand for the independence of public service broadcasters, it is worth asking the following questions: What is citizens’ perception of the real independence of public service broadcasters? Are there differences between national and regional public service broadcasters? (Q. 16.4) Slightly more than half of respondents (51.1%) said they thought that the national PSB (RTVE) was not independent from political power, whereas one fourth said they thought it was (25%).

 

Figure 8. Assessment of the Independence of the National PSP from Political Power (It is independent).

 

Citizen perception of the independence of regional PSBs was very similar, given that slightly more than half respondents (54.1%) said they thought regional PSBs were not independent from political power, whereas a bit more than one fifth (22,3%) said they thought they were.

 

 

Figure 9. Assessment of the Independence of the Regional PSB from Political Power (It is not independent).

 

 

This majority opinion on the lack of independence of PSBs was expressed once again and coincided with the perception of the independence of regional PSBs, which were perceived as being even less independent. Although the survey question called for simultaneous assessment from 0 to 100 of the level of independence of the regional PSB where the respondent lived, RTVE and all the other media outlets in the respondent’s region, the differences were maintained. However, of note is that the regional PSBs were seen to be only slightly less independent than other regional media outlets.

 

Table 5. Q. 17 Please indicate from 0 to 100 the level of independence of the Regional PSB in your region and the National PSB, where 0 is not independent and 100 is completely independent: Independence of the Regional PSB; Independence of the National PSB; Independence of the media in general in your region

 

 

Figure 10. Assessment of the level of independence of the regional PSB where the respondent lives, of the national PSB, and of the other media outlets where the respondent lives. From 0 (least independent) to 100 (most independent)

 

2.4 The return of advertising to RTVE in relation to independence

Assessment of the independence of PSBs took on greater weight starting with Question 16, where respondents were asked: about their level of agreement or disagreement with statements on the presence of advertising on PSBs; the direct relationship between civic engagement and PSBs’ independence from political power (RTVE and each regional PSB), and their perception of these PSBs’ independence from politics.

 

 

Table 6. Q16. Please indicate your level of agreement or disagreement with the following statements about the presence of advertising in the National Public Television; the relationship between advertising support and economic independence; and civic participation, independence and public television government.

 

 

Nearly half of all respondents (45.5%) said they were against the return of advertising to RTVE (in 2010, advertising was discontinued on RTVE, but was never discontinued on regional PSBs). However, a high number of Spanish citizens, represented by more than one fourth of the respondents (26%), neither agreed nor disagreed. It makes sense to include this group with the block of respondents in favour of the return of advertising, given that it at least reflects a lack of opposition to this return (under no circumstances could “neither agree nor disagree” be interpreted to mean the respondent is opposed to the return of advertising). As a result, more than half of all respondents (54.5%) were not opposed to the return of advertising to RTVE and, of that number, 28.5% were in favour of the return of advertising to the national PSB. (Sub-question Q. 16.1).

 

 

Figure 11. Assessment of the return of advertising in national public service broadcasts

 

In the opinion of the majority (nearly half of all respondents, 48.1%), the return of advertising would mean greater financial independence of RTVE. However, for one fourth of respondents (26.2%), not even the return of advertising would solve the problem of PSBs’ lack of financial independence. The respondents who said they neither agreed nor disagreed with the statement (12.3%) should be interpreted along the same lines.

 

2.5 Demand for civic engagement in relation to the independence of PSBs

Without overlooking the importance of the above information, the most interesting information to emerge from the survey is probably related to the connection established by the respondents between civic engagement and PSBs’ independence from political power (Q. 16.3). More than half of all citizens surveyed (56.6%) felt that increased civic participation would also mean more independent PSB governance. We understand this to be relevant because very few opportunities are currently available for such participation in public, private, and national and regional PSBs. Therefore, this interest in participation does not arise from a tradition of the PSBs or any advertising they have done, but from factors unrelated to the development of Spanish PSBs. One of these factors is the growing democratic demand for greater civic participation in all areas of politics.

 

 

Figure 12. Level of agreement or disagreement with the statement, “The more citizen participation, the more independence in the governance of PSBs”

 

 

If the independence of PSBs is considered by the majority of respondents to be the PSBs’ priority attribute and civic engagement is perceived as an additional aspect of the independence of the PSB, it is noteworthy that a considerable number of respondents said that the most necessary place for citizen participation in RTVE (60.3% of respondents) and regional PSBs (61.9%) was news programs.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Table 7. Q.33 In what kind of National PSB content should the amount of civic participation be increased? News and information; Fiction; Entertainment; Other (provide examples). Q. 34 In what kind of Regional PSB content should the amount of civic participation be increased? News and information; Fiction; Entertainment; Other (provide examples)

 

 

Figure 13. National PSB content in which civic participation should increase

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Figure 14. Regional PSB content in which civic participation should increase

 

When asked to indicate possible forms of civic participation in regional PSBs, a considerable percentage of respondents agreed that this participation should involve contact with political parties (48.9%), though the percentage of those who said they neither agreed nor disagreed (32.8%) was also very high.

 

 

Table 8. Q. 35 In relation to other public services that should be offered by the Regional Public Service Broadcaster (PSB), in addition to traditional services (news and information, entertainment, etc.), please indicate your level of agreement or disagreement with the following statements: strongly disagree; disagree; neither agree nor disagree; strongly agree

 

Figure 15. Level of agreement or disagreement with the statement that regional PSBs should offer activities to promote civic participation

 

 

Paradoxically, few respondents (34.1%) identified the regional PSB’s role of increasing citizen participation in politics by favoring contact with regional and local political parties and institutions.

 

 

Figure 16. Level of agreement or disagreement with the statement that regional PSBs should encourage contact with regional and local political parties and institutions

 

 

2.5. Demand for participation through alternative channels and other formats

One of the forms of civic participation in PSBs is through social media such as Facebook and Twitter. RTVE and the regional PSBs all have either institutional accounts or accounts for their most popular programmes. There is evidence of very limited civic participation through the accounts of the regional PSBs (Azurmendi et al, 2015), except for sporadic cases in which some transmedia programmes have included social media participation among their content features (as in the case of programmes such as “Em dic Manel!” and “The Land Rober Tunai Show” on the Catalan and Galician PSBs (Azurmendi & Muñoz Saldaña, 2018).

 

 

Table 9. Q. 25. Please indicate if you are a follower of any of the national PSB or Regional PSB’s Facebook and/or Twitter accounts (Yes; No; I don’t remember): I am a follower of one of the National PSB’s Facebook accounts; I am a follower of one of the Regional PSB’s Facebook accounts; I am a follower of one of the National PSB’s Twitter accounts; I am a follower of one of the Regional PSB’s Twitter accounts.

 

 

Figure 17. Following or not following any of the national PSB’s Facebook accounts

 

 

 

Figure 18. Following or not following any of the regional PSB’s Facebook accounts

 

In terms of participation through Facebook, the overwhelming majority of respondents said they were not followers of the PSBs’ social media accounts (71% in the case of RTVE and 76.8% in the case of the regional PSBs). About one fourth of respondents said they were followers of RTVE’s Facebook account (24.6%), while 17.4% of respondents said they were followers of the regional PSB’s Facebook account.

There was even less participation through Twitter, with 17.3% of respondents following RTVE’s Twitter account and 14% following the regional PSB’s Twitter account.

 

 

Figure 19. Following or not following any of the national PSB’s Twitter accounts

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Figure 20. Following or not following any of the regional PSB’s Twitter accounts

 

 

 

3. Channels for civic participation in Spanish PSBs are virtually non-existent, though RTVE, Catalonia’s TV3 and Andalusia’s Canal Sur lead the way

As shown in a previous study (Azurmendi & Muñoz Saldaña, 2016), the channels for civic participation in Spanish PSBs are actually empty legal structures. There is no political tradition or will to try different models (Fernández Alonso, 2012), such as the British and German models, where different groups representing viewers’ interests interact with PSB management (the BBC’s Audience Councils and the broadcasting councils in each German Länder). Research on accountability (Alsius, Mauri-Río & Rodríguez-Martínez, 2011; Puppis, 2009; Díaz-Campo & Segado-Boj, 2014) provides a complement to studies on civic participation from another perspective in that it describes “the media’s interest in responding to society for the activity it performs”. Civic participation is one of the indicators of accountability to the audience, along with professional self-regulation and information transparency (Suárez Villegas, Rodríguez Martínez, Mauri i de los Ríos & López Meri, 2017).

At present, RTVE and ten regional PSBs [Catalan Media Corporation (Corporación Catalana de Medios Audiovisuales, CCMA), Radio and Television of Andalusia (Radio y Televisión de Andalucía, RTVA), Castilla-La Mancha Media (Radiotelevisión de Castilla-La Mancha, RTVCM), Radio and Television of the Balearic Islands (Radiotelevisión de las Islas Baleares, IB3), Radio and Television Corporation of Galicia (Corporación de Radio y Televisión de Galicia, CRTVG), Radio and Television of the Principality of Asturias (Radio y Televisión del Principado de Asturias, RTPA), Radio and Television of the Canary Islands (Radio Televisión Canaria, RTVC), Aragon Radio and Television Corporation (Corporación Aragonesa de Radio y Televisión, CART), Canal Extremadura Television and Telemadrid] have an Advisory Board, the body considered to represent viewers’ interests. However, as its name suggests, its functions are advisory in nature. In fact, all these Advisory Boards are tasked with sending their opinions (on programming and any other matters under study by the board of directors) to the PSB’s board of directors or governance.

An examination of the PSBs’ corporate websites shows a lack of real activity of the Spanish Advisory Boards. There is no information about their meetings, the reports they have prepared or their interaction with the PSB governance bodies.

The PSBs’ Transparency Portals could also be used as a channel of participation in addition to the Advisory Boards, but no additional resources have been made available on these portals to allow for any other form of participation besides access to information on PSB organization, accountability and financial resources.

Finally, the third channel of civic participation in PSBs is through the viewer or audience ombudsman. RTVE, Corporación Catalana de Medios Audiovisuales (CCMA) and Radio y Televisión de Andalucía (RTVA) have an ombudsman. Ombudsmen are responsible for receiving complaints from viewers and bringing them to the attention of the PSBs’ boards of directors and are therefore mainly mediators between the general public and the PSB. Based on this perspective, their function as a channel for civic participation is highly limited. The reports published by these ombudsmen confirm viewers’ acknowledgement of the effectiveness of sending their complaints and comments to the ombudsmen. The reports also indicate that the ombudsman’s workload is gradually increasing. For example, the Report of the RTVE Ombudsman for the first quarter of 2017 highlighted the increase in the number of messages received from viewers in the first few months of 2017 compared to the last quarter of 2016 (1,138 compared to 1,980). This has been the general trend in PSBs with ombudsmen.

 

 

Figure 21. Source: Report of the RTVE Ombudsman

 

4th 2016

1st 2017

DIFFERENCE

RECEIVED

1138

1980

842

MANAGED

1045

1877

832

 

 

 

 

RNE

41

83

42

& RTVE

63

51

-12

TVE

886

1686

800

NO COMPETITION

55

57

2

CLAN

41

31

-10

SPORTS

 

 

 

INTERNATIONAL

46

27

-19

PROGRAMMES

 

 

 

NEWS

187

251

64

TECHNICAL

15

14

-1

 

 

 

 

 

Of all the comments and complaints received from viewers, most were about TVE (886) and, of that number, 187 were about the news programmes.

According the 2015 Report (the last one published) by the Ombudsman of the Corporación Catalana de Medios Audiovisuales (CCMA), a total of 19,415 messages were received from viewers. Of all messages, 3,837 were about TV3. In this case, news programmes also accounted for most of the messages, along with the popular programme “El foraster”. In terms of social media, the Report indicates that TV3 had 3,749,761 followers on Facebook in December 2015, but details are not provided on specific accounts or how many of these people were followers of specific programmes, institutional accounts, etc. (however, a visit on 26.7.2017 showed that TV3 had 480,000 followers on Facebook). According to the 2015 Report, TV3 had 1,751,222 followers on Twitter, but more detailed information is not provided (a visit on 26.7.2017 showed that TV3 had 426,000 followers on Twitter).

 

 

Figure 22. Source: Report of the CCMA Ombudsman. (Translated)

Programme

Thanks

Query / comment

Complaint

Messages

Avg. Response Time (days)

El foraster

7

110

596

713

3.67

Telenotícies

7

383

182

572

9.61

Els matins

13

431

66

510

5.12

El Faro, cruïlla de camins

3

416

77

496

1.80

Info K

57

367

38

462

10.46

Divendres

2

242

44

288

5.95

Espai Terra

1

206

30

237

3.85

30 minuts

12

170

25

207

12.97

Oh Happy Day

5

154

24

183

1.06

Cites

8

132

29

169

2.58

TOTAL

115

2,611

1,111

3,837

5.84

 

 

The 2016 Report of the Ombudsman of Radio y Televisión de Andalucía (RTVA) indicates that it received 588 messages from viewers, most of which were about Easter Week and news programmes, and 1,055 direct interactions on social media. However, no details are provided on the kind of social media or the accounts where these interactions took place.

 

 

Figure 23. Source: Report of the Ombudsman of Radio y Televisión de Andalucía (RTVA) (Translated).

TYPE AND CONTENT OF MESSAGES RECEIVED BY CSTV

The items are listed by the number of complaints received.

 

Complaints

Opinions

Suggestions

Info requirement

Congrats

Easter Week

43

 

1

 

1

News programmes

40

5

6

 

2

Andalucía Dir.

32

 

1

 

3

Technical Management

27

 

4

9

 

Teletext

22

 

1

4

 

La Tarde Aquí

19

4

7

 

1

Carnaval

14

 

 

1

 

El Legado

14

 

5

5

 

Programmes

12

3

8

10

3

Toros p Todos

11

2

1

 

1

Yo soy del Sur

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Based on these data on the presence of three PSBs in an additional channel for public participation, namely, the Audience or Viewer Ombudsman, we checked the level of viewer satisfaction in Catalonia and Andalusia, the regions where the regional PSB had an Ombudsman. We also checked for any notable differences between the viewer satisfaction data for these two regions and the data for the regions that did not have an Ombudsman.

To carry out this comparative study, we extracted the data on Qualtrics survey question Q. 6 separately for Andalusia and Catalonia. The data from these regions were aggregated to compare this part with the whole. All data for the regions and Spain as a whole were then expressed as percentages. Finally, we prepared the final comparative graphs. Because question Q. 6 was affirmative for the national PSB (“is necessary”) and negative for the regional PSB (“is not necessary”), comparison of the responses involved adding up the responses on the regional PSB that disagreed with the statement and comparing them to the aggregate responses on the national PSB that agreed with the statement.

 

 

Figure 24. Catalonia. Agreement or disagreement about the need for the Regional Public Service Broadcaster: “Regional Public Service Television (RPSB) is not necessary in Catalonia” (%).

 

 

As a result, nearly half of Catalan respondents (49.6%) said they thought the regional PSB was necessary, whereas only 41% of respondents from all of Spain said they thought the regional PSB was necessary. Furthermore, more than one fourth of those who did not agree with the statement were adamant about it (26.1% “strongly disagreed” that the regional PSB was not necessary), whereas only a small fraction of respondents in Catalonia (5.2%) adamantly agreed that the regional PSB was not necessary. And if we understand that those who neither agreed nor disagreed with this statement were not opposed to the regional PSB, the total is a considerable majority (72.5%).

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Figure 25. Andalusia. Agreement or disagreement about the need for the Regional Public Service Broadcaster: “Regional Public Service Television (RPSB) is not necessary” (%).

 

 

Close to half of the respondents in Andalusia (40.4%) said they thought the regional PSB was necessary. Of that number, 18.6% adamantly disagreed that it was not necessary (“strongly disagree”). Slightly more than one third of respondents (36.7%) agreed it was not necessary. Of this number, significantly more respondents of Catalonia (12.8%) adamantly agreed with the statement (“strongly agree” it was not necessary). What is relevant about the case of Andalusia is that there was only a slight difference in the number of respondents who said the regional PSB was necessary and the number who said it was not. We understand that the “neither agree nor disagree” option in response to the statement “the regional PSB is not necessary” (22.9% of respondents) can be interpreted as non-opposition to the regional PSB. From this perspective, the percentage of respondents in Andalusia who were not opposed to the regional PSB amounted to more than 63.3%. However, this figure was lower than the percentage of respondents in Catalonia (72.5%).

 

 

Figure 26. Comparison. Need for the regional public service broadcaster. Mean assessment of viewers from all regions compared to the assessment of viewers from Catalonia and Andalusia: “Regional Public Service Television (RPSB) is not necessary” (%).

 

After individual data for Catalonia and Andalusia were analysed and then compared with the mean of the assessment of the regional PSBs in each region, two findings stood out: the percentage of those who adamantly disagreed with the statement that the regional PSB was not necessary was significantly higher in Catalonia, and the percentage of “neither agree nor disagree” answers was notably lower in Catalonia and Andalusia than in all the other regions. Furthermore, the results for Andalusia were surprising in that the percentage of respondents who adamantly agreed with the statement that the regional PSB was not necessary was much higher than in Catalonia and higher than the mean for the regions (12.8% in Andalusia, 5.2% in Catalonia and 9.6% in the regions).

However, when we compared these data to the responses about whether the national PSB was necessary, we observed that the percentage of respondents who considered it to be necessary was much higher (as much as 68.9%, of which 29% were adamant). At the same time, the percentage of respondents who said the national PSB was not necessary was very low (9.6%, of which 4.3% were adamant) compared to the percentages of respondents in Catalonia, Andalusia and the regions who said the regional PSB was not necessary.

 

 

Figure 27. Comparison. Need for the regional public service broadcaster. Mean assessment of viewers from all regions of the need for the national PSB and the regional PSB compared to the assessment of viewers from Catalonia and Andalusia: “The national Public Service Broadcaster (PSB) and the regional Public Service Broadcaster (PSB) are not necessary” (%).

 

In terms of satisfaction with the regional PSB service in Catalonia, slightly more than half of respondents (52.9%) said they were satisfied compared to one fifth who said they were not satisfied (19%). The number of respondents who chose the “neither agree nor disagree” option was too high (28.1%).

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Figure 28. Satisfaction of viewers in Catalonia with the PSB of Catalonia. Percentage

 

In Andalusia, 37.3% of respondents were satisfied with the regional PSB. This figure was very similar to the percentage who were not satisfied (31.4%). Significantly, 14.9% of those who were not satisfied adamantly disagreed with the survey statement (“strongly disagree”). Also of note was that the percentage of respondents who chose the “neither agree nor disagree” option (31.4%) was the same as the percentage of respondents who were not satisfied with the regional PSB.

 

 

Figure 29. Satisfaction of viewers in Andalusia with the PSB of Andalusia. Percentage.

 

When the results on satisfaction in Catalonia and Andalusia were compared with those for the regions, two relevant facts emerged. First, many more respondents were satisfied with the regional PSB in Catalonia (up to 7.5 points higher) than were satisfied with the regional PSBs. Second, there was no difference between satisfaction with the regional PSB in Andalusia and satisfaction with the regional PSB in the other regions.

 

Figure 30. Comparison. Satisfaction of viewers with their regional Public Service Broadcaster compared to the satisfaction of the viewers of Catalonia and Andalusia with their regional Public Service Broadcasters. Percentage.

 

In the case of satisfaction, as with the concept of need, when the percentages of the national and regional PSBs were compared, the national PSB came out on top. A total of 50.9% of respondents said they were satisfied with the national PSB (RTVE) and, of that number, 10.3% were adamant.

 

 

Figures 31 and 32. Comparison. Satisfaction of viewers with the national Public Service Broadcaster and their regional Public Service Broadcaster compared to satisfaction of the viewers of Catalonia and Andalusia with their regional Public Service Broadcasters. Percentage.

 

 

The fact that responses about the need for and satisfaction with the regional PSB were so different in Catalonia and Andalusia, and that the results from the Andalusia survey were so similar to those of all the other regions would appear to indicate that having an audience or viewer ombudsman did not lead to an increase in satisfaction with the regional PSB. Although RTVE showed higher percentages than the regional PSBs in terms of the need for and satisfaction with the national PSB, it was also impossible to demonstrate that having an ombudsman was the cause or one of the causes of RTVE’s popularity. Given the fact that only three PSBs provide for civic participation through an ombudsman and that respondents in Catalonia and Andalusia provided such different answers, no sound estimates or conclusions could be drawn.

 

4. Conclusions

The majority of people considered independence to be one of the most important attributes of both the national and regional PSBs. More than half of respondents (53.9%) said that independence was more of a priority than impartiality, pluralism and neutrality, whereas slightly more than one-fourth (26.4%) said they thought independence was important, but not as important as those other attributes.

Independence was mainly understood to mean independence from political parties in PSB governance (67 out of 100). However, there was also considerable demand for editorial independence (66.2 out of 100), an attribute that is the result of independence from political parties in PSB governance. Respondents also said this independence should be financial (55.8 out of 100). This can be interpreted as a criticism of public funding of PSBs.

A considerable majority of respondents did not perceive the PSBs to be independent. Slightly more than half (51.1%) said that RTVE was not independent from political power and 54.1% said that the regional PSBs were not independent either. At the same time, one-fourth (25%) said the opposite about RTVE and slightly fewer than one fourth (22.3%) said the opposite about the regional PSB.

It was not possible to demonstrate a real correlation between the PSB’s positive reputation and civic participation in PSB governance and the use of existing civic participation channels. However, the chance to participate was valued very highly. More than half of all respondents (56.6%) felt that increased civic participation would also mean greater independence of PSB governance. This interest in participation did not arise from a tradition of the PSBs or any advertising they have done, but from factors unrelated to the development of Spanish PSBs. One of these factors is the growing democratic demand for greater civic participation in all areas of politics.

Participation by being a follower of the PSB’s Facebook and Twitter social media accounts was very limited. A considerable majority of respondents said they were not followers of any of the PSBs’ institutional accounts or the accounts for specific programmes on Facebook (71% in the case of RTVE and 76.8% in the case of the regional PSBs). About one fourth of respondents said they were followers of RTVE's Facebook account (24.6%) while fewer respondents (17.4%) said they were followers of the regional PSB’s Facebook account. Twitter had even fewer followers. RTVE was followed on Twitter by 17.3% of viewers, whereas regional PSBs were followed by only 14% of viewers.

Although the satisfaction of users with public service broadcasters was initially considered a contextual aspect of the study, when user satisfaction was viewed in relation to the concepts of independence and participation, some relevant results were found. The majority of respondents (50.3%) said they were satisfied with the national Public Service Broadcaster, whereas satisfaction with the regional Public Service Broadcaster dropped to 39.9%. However, there was no clear pattern among the regions, given that satisfaction among users of the regional PSB of Catalonia was 52.9%.

There is a clear need to monitor and do advanced research on the public broadcasting service and socio-economic context in Spain. It is necessary to analyse the different hypotheses and variables in this study as part of the more extensive task of analysing and interpreting the challenges and opportunities this public service will face in the coming years. These challenges and uncertainties include changes in viewer use and consumer habits in response to the different platforms and media available, the need to ensure PSBs are more politically and financially independent, and that they provide better channels for participation, and the evolution of the real usefulness of the PSB as perceived by the different target age groups. All these challenges and uncertainties present opportunities for but also threats to the creation of a sound public broadcasting service, which is so necessary to guarantee our society’s audiovisual and democratic health. We hope this study helps clarify the situation of PSBs and provides guidance for lawmakers and public administrators, as well as those doing media research. We will continue doing our research.

 

 

 

 

References

Almirón, N., Capurro, M. & Santcovsky P. (2010). The Regulation of Public Broadcasters’ News Coverage of Political Actors in Ten European Union Countries. Communication & Society 23 (1), 205-236.

Azurmendi, A. & Muñoz Saldaña, M. (2018). Programas de entretenimiento, documentales e informativos transmedia en EITB, CCMC, CGRTV y RTVA: la obligación de servicio público de reconectar con la audiencia joven en un entorno de proximidad. In E. Galán, A. Rodríguez Serrano, & J. Marzal Felici (Ed) Contenidos Transmedia para la Radiotelevisión de Proximidad (pp. 91-106). Pamplona: Eunsa.

Azurmendi, A., Llorens, C., López Vidales, N. & Bas Portero, J.J. (2015). Audience  participation as added value for public service proximity television. The case study of ETB 2’s “La noche de…”. Revista Latina de Comunicación Social (70), 490-518. Recuperado de http://www.revistalatinacs.org/070/paper/1056/26en.html 
doi: 10.4185/RLCS-2015-1056en

Azurmendi, A. & Muñoz Saldaña, M. (2016) Participación del público en televisiones públicas autonómicas: una propuesta a partir de la reforma 2016 de la BBC. El Profesional de la Información 25 (5), 803-813. doi: https://doi.org/10.3145/epi.2016.sep.11

Barnett, S. (2015). Plurality and Public Service Broadcasting: Why and How PSBs Deserve Protection. In S. Barnett & J. Townend (Ed) Media Power and Plurality (pp. 45-64). Basingstoke: Palgrave.

Carpentier, N. (2011). Media and participation: A site of ideological-democratic struggle. Bristol: Intellect.

Carpentier, N. (2015). Differentiating between Access, Interaction and Participation. Conjunctions: Transdisciplinary Journal of Cultural Participation 2(2), 8-28. Recuperado de https://tidsskrift.dk/tcp/article/view/23117

Comisionado para los Derechos Humanos del Consejo de Europa (2011). Public Service Media and Human Rights. Issue Discussion Paper. Estrasburgo: Consejo de Europa.

Daskal, E. (2016). My voice needs to be heard: Cultural challengers in the regulatory arena. International Journal of Communication (10), 786-804.

Defensor del Espectador, Oyente y Usuario de Medios Interactivos (2017). Informe trimestral Enero-Febrero- Marzo 2017. Recuperado de http://www.rtve.es/contenidos/documentos/INFORME_PRIMER_TRIMESTRE_2017.pdf

Defensora de l’Audiència, Corporació Catalana de Mitjans Audiovisuals (2017).  Informe anual 2015. Recuperado en http://statics.ccma.cat/multimedia/pdf/7/6/1469631642867.pdf

European Audiovisual Observatory (2015). Public Service Media Remit in 40 Eurpean  countries. Recuperado de https://rm.coe.int/1680783338

Fernández Alonso, I. & Fernández Viso, A. (2012). ¿Cómo se gobiernan las radiotelevisiones públicas autonómicas?: Órganos de gestión, injerencia política y fragilidad de los mecanismos de control. In J.C. Miguel de Bustos & M.A. Casado del Río (2012). Televisiones autonómicas. Evolución y crisis del modelo de proximidad (pp. 119-142). Barcelona:  Gedisa.

Fernández Alonso, I. & Fernández Viso, A. (2012). Internal pluralism in the governance of public service broadcasters in Spain and the role of social groups and professionals. The case of RTVE. Communication & Society 25(2), 203-230.

Freedman, D. (2008). The Politics of Media Policy. Cambridge: Polity.

Gibbons, T. & Humphreys, P. (2012) Audiovisual Regulation under Pressure.

Comparative cases from North America and Europe. London-New York: Routledge.

Hallin, D. & Mancini, P. (2004). Comparing Media Systems: Three Models of Media and Politics. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Hasebrink, U. (2011). Giving the Audience a voice: The Role of Research in Making Media Regulation More Responsive to the Needs of the Audience.  Journal of Information Policy (1), 321-336.

Hortz, Ch. (2016). Public Service Broadcasting and Participation, Manuscrito, Paper presentado en RIPE Conference, Antwerp.

Humanes, M.L. & Fernández Alonso, I. (2015). Pluralismo informativo y medios

públicos. La involución de TVE en el contexto del cambio político (2012-2013). Revista Latina de Comunicación Social (70), 270-287. Recuperado de http://www.revistalatinacs.org/070/paper/1046fu/16es.html DOI: 10.4185/RLCS-2015-1046

Iosifidis, P. (2010). Pluralism and Funding of Public Service Broadcasting Across 

Europe. En P. Iosifidis (Ed.), Reinventing Public Service Communication: European Broadcasters and Beyond. (pp. 23-35)  London: Palgrave Macmillan.

Iosifidis, P. (2010). Reinventing Public Service Communication: European Broadcasters and Beyond. Basingstoke: Palgrave.

Iosifidis, P.  (2011b). The Public Sphere, Social Networks and Public Service Media’  Information. Information, Communication & Society 14 (5), 619-637.

Kleinsteuber, H.J. (2010). Public Service Broadcasting Councils in Germnay. Making them fit for the future. In G.F. Lowe (Ed.). The Public in Public Service Media (pp. 213-226). Göteborg: Nordicom.

López Cepeda, A.M (2011). La gobernanza en la gestión y control de la radiotelevisión pública en España. In F. Campos Freire (Coord.) Comunicación y Gobernanza en Europa. (pp. 153-176). Madrid: Universitas.

Manfredi Díaz, A. (2016). Memoria del Defensor de la Audiencia de RTVA 2016.

Recuperado de http://blogs.canalsur.es/defensorrtva/files/Memoria-Defensor-2016.pdf

Miguel de Bustos, J.C. (2012) Introducción. In J.C. Miguel de Bustos, & M.A. Casado del Río, Televisiones autonómicas. Evolución y crisis del modelo público de proximidad. (p. 27). Barcelona: Gedisa.

OFCOM (2015). Public Service Media in the Internet Age. Recuperado de

https://www.ofcom.org.uk/__data/assets/pdf_file/0025/63475/PSB-statement.pdf

OFCOM (2009). Ofcom’s Second Public Service Broadcasting Review: Putting Viewers First. Recuperado de https://www.ofcom.org.uk/consultations-and-statements/category-1/psb2_phase2

Parlamento Europeo (2013). Media freedom: MEPs call for annual EU monitoring of national media laws. Recuperado de http://www.europarl.europa.eu/news/en/news-room/20130520IPR08584/media-freedom-meps-call-for-annual-eu-monitoring-of-national-media-laws

Meri, A., Merino-Arribas, A. & Mauri Ríos, M. (2017). Instrumentos de rendición de cuentas en España. Análisis comparativo en Cataluña, Madrid y Valencia. El Profesional de la Información 26 (2), 255-266. DOI: https://doi.org/10.3145/epi.2017.mar.12

Saperas, E. (2011). Sistemas de regulación y valores de la comunicación actual. In F. Campos Freire (Coord.) Comunicación y Gobernanza en Europa. (pp. 127-152). Madrid: Universitas.

Suárez Villegas, J.C., Rodríguez Martínez, R., Mauri, I., De los Ríos, M. & López Meri, A. (2017). Accountability y culturas periodísticas en España. Impacto y propuesta de buenas prácticas en los medios de comunicación españoles (MediaACES). Revista Latina de Comunicación Social (72), 321-330. DOI: 10.4185/rlcs-2017-1167.

Tremblay, G. (2016). Public Service Media in the Age of Digital Networks. Canadian Journal of Communication 41 (1), 191-2016. Recuperado de http://www.cjc-online.ca/index.php/journal/article/view/3062

 

 

 

up
© Communication & Society - School of Communication - University of Navarra | Contact Us | Legal Notice | Site Map