Beatriz Silva 08/10/2020
Carles Puigdemont calls Miquel Iceta a bastard. His followers applaud enthusiastically. Quim Torra follows him. He refers to Pedro Sánchez as ‘tros de quòniam’, a Catalan expression equivalent to fool or idiot or really stupid. A company finds it amusing and starts selling t-shirts and mugs with the mock stamped on a senyera (Catalan flag). People buy them.
It is the Catalonia of today. A place where insult has become commonplace and where our public television is part of this new normal. On paper, there is a scrupulous code, the CCMA Style Book, which prohibits TV3 and Catalunya Radio professionals from making public statements on blogs or social networks about political or social debates that could compromise the impartiality of the channel. However, we see journalists and well-known faces from public radio and television giving their opinions, questioning politicians, insulting or reproducing degrading comments where the words of Franco, fascist and botifler [traitor] are the most common.
The day the Supreme Court confirmed Torra’s sentence, TV3 presenter Jair Domínguez called for the burning of containers. “It’s all so depressing that not even 500 burning containers could make my day. Well, now that I think about it, yes that would make me happy”, he announced in a tweet. Almost at the same time a sports journalist asked why the Democratic Tsunami had not yet been present.
What if a BBC journalist said such a thing, or retweeted a fanatic saying that an opposition leader is a “slug”?
If one of the faces of the British public broadcaster called bobbies dogs, as Toni Soler did with the Mossos d’Esquadra, would he/she still be on the air? It is difficult to imagine the Newsnight program overprinting insulting messages taken from Twitter as it is done on Més 324. And even more so in the case of those responsible for the BBC if arguing that it is done this way because it “enriches” the information, which was what the president of the CCMA, Núria Llorach, said to the Parliament.
Opinion on Twitter is prohibited. It was the label with which the Planta Baixa TV3 program analyzed a few days ago the BBC’s announcement that it would pass stricter rules for the participation of its professionals in social networks. Despite the traditional impartiality of the British channel, its director, Tim Davie, stated that it was necessary to go further and eliminate any bias. On the TV3 set, the president of the channel’s Professional Committee, Lluís Caellas, explained that the rules were just as strict on Catalan television but he did not know what to answer when a guest asked him the obvious: they are not being met. Shortly after, the professional councils of TV3 and Catalunya Ràdio released an internal statement recalling the need to comply with the indications of the Style Book “because if the public perceives us as biased, the perception of bias extends to the medium itself”.
If we pay attention to the latest results of the CEO, we can affirm that this bias is a consolidated reality. Or at least that’s how the population perceives it. If in 2005 57% of the people who voted for the PSC, ICV or the PP had TV3 as their reference channel, today only 13.5% of the people who vote for these formations or their heirs see it.
If its professionals had stayed out of the insult and the normalized disqualification of the political leaders whom these audiences admire, would these figures be different? Probably yes. The people who wrote the Style Book did so with the sincere purpose of creating quality public television that would serve all citizens.
It is striking that compliance with the Style Book is precisely the argument that the director of TV3, Vicent Sanchis, uses to justify that in more than five years no specific content has been programmed on corruption cases involving Pujol, his wife and their seven children. Not having Pujol’s testimony, he argues, would mean breaking insurmountable deontological norms. A measuring stick that is so short for some things and very long for others.