Oriol Bartomeus, January 1, 2022
Announcement of the FAQS program on the facade of TV3 in Sant Joan Despí. Photo by Xavier Jubierre.
The political specialization responds to the desire to turn the public channel into an instrument at the service of independence.
On the first of April of this year, TV3 broadcast a press release announcing that the channel had led the television audience in Catalonia for forty-four months in a row. In other words, since August 2017 the public channel had been the most watched by Catalan viewers uninterruptedly. The note described the feat as a “historical record”, and rightly so. TV3’s leadership was extended until June, a total of forty-six months, until Tele 5 took away the leading position.
TV3’s situation is particular within the Spanish, and even European, television scene. Its uninterrupted leadership responds to a special characteristic of the channel: it is the only national television that broadcasts in the language of a very important part of the Catalan population, which gives it a situation of almost monopoly (politics&prose, no. 25). If a Catalan-speaking viewer wants to be informed in his own language, he only has one option to choose from: TV3.
The attempts to set up a chain in Catalan that could compete with the public one have resulted in resounding failures, despite being 8tv, the Godó Group’s television, the one that came closest to reaching it, mainly with the news program 8 al dia, led by Josep Cuní, who was on the air from 2011 to 2017, with audience shares of over 5%.
Despite this virtual monopoly position enjoyed by TV3 among viewers who want to watch television in the Catalan language, the channel’s share has suffered a clear decline in the last ten years, according to data from the Statistical Institute of Catalonia ( Idescat). In the year 2000, TV3’s average annual audience rose to 21% of the total. Twenty years later, this figure was below 15%. The annual series shows a pronounced drop in the average audience of TV3 between 2005 and 2008, from 19 to 14%, a subsequent stabilization and a new drop between 2012 and 2017, which leaves the public share at 11%.
The cause seems obvious. In 2006, Cuatro and La Sexta appeared, which that year attracted 7.7% of the audience and the following year they already exceeded 10%. As of 2012, the competition for the television audience becomes even stronger with the appearance of thematic channels. This increase in supply directly hits the share of general channels, not just TV3. The contractions in audiences in the last twenty years are equally dramatic for TVE, Antena 3 or Telecinco. In fact, they are more so, precisely because TV3 continues to have, unlike other general channels, a “captive” audience, which only has one option to choose from if they want to be informed in Catalan.