Andalucía, like all the autonomous regions of Spain has its own public broadcaster – RTVA.
Critics of this broadcaster say it is nothing more than the mouthpiece of the Andalucía government which is controlled by PSOE. The same can be said for the other regional stations that speak not for the people of Madrid, Cataluña, the Basque region and so on but for their political masters.
Spain has a highly developed commercial broadcasting system as well as its own national State broadcasting company RTVE. There are those who would argue there is no need either for RTVE (or for that matter the BBC in Britain) as a State funded entity. However for the moment let us accept that RTVE should stand.
If it does what possible justification can there be for RTVA in Andalucía? I suspect the answer is none – but PSOE wouldn’t agree with me because it is its voice to the people and not the voice of the people.
It has just been revealed that RTVA’s director general, Pablo Carrasco, earns 139,345 euros a year. That is 72 per cent more per annum than the president of the Junta de Andalucía – José Antonio Griñán – the station’s political master. Indeed it appears that 18 of the 44 directors of RTVA receive more than the person who runs the Andalucía government.
There’s more. In the first three months of 2009 RTVA lost 5.8 million euros which equates to 2.47 per cent of the Andalucía government’s budget for that period. The Partido Popular predicts this will reach 20 million by the end of the year. There is also a study underway to determine whether the Andalucía broadcaster should still accept advertising or be entirely funded by the people of the region instead.
So not only do we have a regional station whose key executives earn more than the president, ministers or delegates of Andalucía – it also eats up a good share of the region’s funding and that seems set to increase.
In a nation with a State broadcaster RTVE that covers all regions there are also numerous national commercial TV stations and more radio stations than you can shake an aerial at. Hence there can be no justification for regional stations funded by the people who speak not for them but for their political masters.
Of course there is yet another layer of broadcasting in Spain. There is hardly a municipality in the country, however small it may be, that doesn’t at least have a radio station and probably a TV station as well. These again are funded by the local people but speak for the administration. After each town hall election the defeated parties will claim, probably correctly, that the ruling party excluded them from the airwaves. Hence PSOE will bitch at the Partido Popular, the PP at PSOE, and so on and so forth depending on which municipality you are in at the time. I used to read these reports with alarm – then I rationalized it on the basis that each party probably excluded the other equally so that overall there was a perfect balance.
However the key question still remains – why should the Spanish tax payer fund the regional and town hall stations?