Thursday, February 16, 2012

Interview to Mònica Terribas, Catalan TV Director

Extract from an interview published by "http://international-view.cat". You can read entire interview here.


What does TV3 have that other TV channels around the world don’t?
TV3 has managed to really identify itself with its target audience. The viewing public in Catalonia is very demanding because they see it as belonging to them. TV3 is greatly loved by its public, which means it receives a lot of criticism when the audience feel they’ve been let down. We’re all very critical of the people we love. When a friend lets you down it really hurts. If we’re let down by someone we don’t know it also makes us feel bad, but we don’t lose sleep over it. TV3 has achieved quality programming that reflects the interests of the viewers in Catalonia. Our country isn’t typical, but it has a television that’s typical from the point of view of any Western democratic country. It’s ambitious television; it has correspondents who are dedicated to international politics, who don’t avoid any external issues, that don’t create programmes with a provincial mentality, that isn’t a subsidiary of the Spanish market, that doesn’t wait for others to feed it scraps. Instead it fights to have its own productions in the international marketplace; it’s capable of co-producing a cartoon series with the BBC or a documentary with Channel 4 or being nominated for an Oscar with a documentary like Balseros (Cuban Rafters). TV3 is a normal TV station for a country that wants to be normal. If all our institutions behaved in this way, the country would be a success.


What’s different about the Catalan audience?
The Catalan viewer is used to watching certain quality programmes on TV3 (a nine part docu-series, a documentary or an interview), even the fact the Catalan viewing public are interested in these programmes is not an accident, it’s because TV3 has been educating its audience for twenty-seven years. If you put the same product on another channel you wouldn’t get the same result, even in Catalonia. People identify the product with a brand and with an identity and they feel comfortable. We’re the only channel in the Spanish state which has a programme where the public takes part in the debate.

With globalization and the proliferation of channels, will the impact of national channels such as TV3 diminish?
Quantitatively we've lost viewers. The combined channels of Televisió de Catalunya currently achieve a 20% share of the pie. One fifth of the audience in Catalonia watches our channels. In a context of some 50 or 60 channels this is very positive. However, what’s really important is the qualitative impact: what effect do we have, what do people remember about the programmes, what capacity do our programmes have to initiate debate and improve social dialogue...? The true influence of a TV company lies in the capacity of its scheduling to generate an interest in the viewing public that goes beyond watching a particular programme.

TV3 has been a vital tool for spreading the social use of Catalan. Is this still the case?
More so than before. The choice of channels on offer is much wider than it was in 1983, and now almost all of them are in Spanish. A large percentage of private TV channels are in Spanish, and Televisión Española hasn’t increased its production in Catalan. Instead it’s kept it the same as twenty years ago. In this context, TV3 and its channels are alone in an audiovisual arena that is a lot more unbalanced than before, from a linguistic point of view. The impact of TV3's work in the field of linguistic socialisation is unquestionable, especially in the case of children and teenagers, because the impact of children’s programmes in private channels is very strong. If we want our children to have a reference in Catalan aside from school we have to fight to have a strong children’s channel, as well as a channel that’s attractive to teenagers, one that responds to its interests: with football, with good films, with the series they download from the Internet... It would make no sense for TV3 to be a self-sufficient TV company, inward looking, producing only films in Catalan and series made by people from Catalonia. The world is very big and it's very interconnected and TV in Catalonia should aspire to respond to everyone’s interests.

You wrote your doctoral thesis on TV, the public sphere and national identity...
... and I concluded that the more windows the media open to public participation and the more it de-institutionalises and opens up to civil society, the more democratically rich a society is. Nevertheless, the tendency for Western TV formats both in Europe and the United States is to prioritise the efficacy of the message rather than its depth, because economic criteria are more important than social profitability. This reduces the capacity media organisations have to transform society.

Interviewed by Eva Piquer. You can read the entire interview in the Catalan Internacional View

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