The political-journalistic struggle: a Catalan case

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Now that freedom of expression and press control emerged as major concerns in the political conflict between Catalonia and the Spanish central government, it is worth to bring into discussion a much debated issue. Catalan public broadcasting journalists have been protesting for over ten years against the so-called coverage quotes. In short, current regulations establish that journalists are required to use a calculated number related to the proportion of votes cast in the previous election to determine the amount of broadcast time they allot to each party. The Nordic Journal of Applied Ethics (Ettik i praksis) recently published the academic work of Comress director Carme Ferré-Pavia, Political control and journalist protests in Spanish public media in electoral campaigns: A decade of conflict, in which she presents an in-depth analysis of the case and its historical roots from different angles: the protests, the journalists’ professional roles, the political parties’ strategies, the roles of the regulatory boards and the initiatives taken by some professional organizations and institutions.

The academic publication seeks to explore different perspectives and make visible the role of media professionals who protested in order to stop having information on the one hand and politically controlled advertisements on the other. Journalists have repeatedly and publicly complained about the quotas, while simultaneously explaining the effects of the quotas to the audience and not crediting authorship of this news. Ferré-Pavia conducted extensive document examination, news content analysis, as well as interviews with relevant key informants.

The results indicate that the Spanish political class has deemed the performance of the Catalan public broadcaster as tending to equate political information with electoral spots controlled by parties. Consequently, an enduring conflict between politicians and Catalan journalists arose and created distances towards their audiences.

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