During the first thirty years of the Francoist dictatorship, the media were subjected to severe censorship, under the 1938 Ley de Prensa (Press Law), which gave the government absolute control over the media. Publishers were required to provide the censors with all material prior to publication, and government nominees were appointed to executive positions in media companies. In 1966, the Ley de Prensa e Imprenta (Press Law), unofficially known as the Ley de Fraga (Fraga Law), was passed. Though this measure abolished prior censorship, publications which transgressed the (still ill-defined) limits of freedom of expression, or attacked the founding principles of the regime, could be fined, suspended and even closed down. The limited nature of this act may be gauged by the number of clandestine publications which were launched in its immediate aftermath.
   The constitution of 1978, which recognized and protected freedom of expression (article 20), changed this situation dramatically. From the 1970s onwards, the media were revitalized, and favourable market conditions in the 1980s have produced an unprecedented expansion in the amount of information and cultural discussion on offer. The press was augmented with new titles, mostly at regional or local level, though in many cases these were local editions of existing national publications. Readership figures for the weekday editions of the daily newspapers rose to 2.5 million by 1994, with substantially higher figures for the weekend editions. The three leading newspapers in terms of sales, El País, ABC and El Mundo, are national dailies published in Madrid, with regional editions in some of the autonomous communities. All three compete with each other in news coverage and also in the readership at which they aim. They are followed by La Vanguardia and El Periódico de Catalunya, published in Barcelona and read essentially in Catalonia. Among the daily newspapers, some of the highest readership figures are commanded by the sporting press, especially the two papers exclusively devoted to sport, Marca and As, which in 1992 ranked third and eighth respectively. Another area of increasing importance in the Spanish press is economics, which is covered by new publications devoted exclusively to this topic, such as Actualidad Económica and Expansión, as well as by the business supplements included in the most important newspapers.
   Though annual average readership of the daily press has shown a slight increase since 1993, levels of readership are still among the lowest in Europe. In 1992, 10 percent of Spaniards regularly bought a newspaper, compared to 15 percent in France, 35 percent in Germany, and 40 percent in Britain. It is true that because of the Spanish habit of sharing reading matter in bars, private clubs or libraries, real readership figures are probably of the order of 25–30 percent. Nevertheless, the corresponding rate for France is over 50 percent, and for Britain 85 percent. On the other hand, readership of the quality press is probably comparable in Spain and the UK: there is no equivalent in Spain of the sensationalist popular tabloid press which commands such a large share of the market in Britain. Nor do Spaniards have the habit of taking out regular subscriptions, preferring to purchase directly from news stands (kioscos) and local shops.
   Within the print media, the most vigorous area is, undoubtedly, revistas periódicas (regular magazines), a high-profit sector with a increasing number of publications, many of them Spanish editions of foreign magazines. The most successful publications of the 1980s have been the so-called prensa del corazón (romantic press). The most famous of these magazines are ¡HOLA!, Semana, Lecturas, Diez Minutos and more recently, QMD, which is based on a television programme containing news about the rich and famous. These magazines have been successful because they fill the gap left by the daily newspapers, which, unlike those in Britain and the US, do not have personal and gossip columns.
   During the last years of the dictatorship and the transition to democracy, newspapers seemed reluctant to publish items on current affairs, and this gap was also successfully filled by the magazine sector. The first real news magazine was Cambio 16, which started production in 1972. Similar in style to The Times or Newsweek, Cambio 16 set a new standard of professionalism. However, with the increasing modernization of the style and content of newspapers, most of these magazines gradually disappeared, except for Cambio 16 and Tiempo, the latter having a more sensationalist character. However, the magazine that best reflects the liberal spirit of the years that followed the dictatorship is Interviú, which combines an explosive mixture of free coverage of politics and photographs of naked women. The most characteristic feature of the structure of mass media in Spain is the outstanding importance and influence of the very heterogeneous medium of radio. Radio has the advantage of being ubiquitious, is practically free, and can be listened to in public. It satisfies a general cultural need, which is the Spaniards" liking for conversation, and the interest in things local and close at hand. The two main varieties of radio found in Spain are: onda media (medium wave) and conventional radio on the one hand, and frecuencia modulada (FM) and radio fórmula (specialized radio) on the other, the latter being the preferred medium of the younger age-groups. New licences granted in 1990 by the central government and the six autonomous communities, which enjoy devolved powers in the area of electronic communication, increased the number of radio stations to nearly 1.5 million. There are another 400 municipal radio stations and around 100 community radio stations, which are not restricted by the current legislation. Although the first radio stations began to operate in 1924, the number of listeners was not large until the mid-1930s. After the Civil War, radio became the most effective of all propaganda tools. Broadcasting was regulated by the 1939 Statutory Order, which gave the governmentcontrolled Radio Nacional de España (RNE) (national radio of Spain) the exclusive right to broadcast news. Only groups which were close to the regime were given licences, and in 1960 all radio stations were legally required to broadcast simultaneously the news programme of RNE. This order was only repealed in 1977. Radio underwent a radical change in structure and outline during the 1970s, when broadcasting was deregulated, and more licences for FM stations were granted. News broadcasts were liberalized, and radio became a means of expression for the political transition to democracy, and subsequently a provider of entertainment. Radio is still considered very influential, its successful combination of news, music and current affairs winning it an audience which in the 1990s has remained stable at approximately 16 million listeners, much larger than in any other European country. Radio is structured commercially around a mixed system of public and private stations. The biggest public network is RNE, which has the widest coverage, reaching all over the world with its Radio Exterior de España station, the first to broadcast outside Spain. Among the private networks, SER, COPE, Antena 3 and Onda Cero are the leading groups in terms of listeners and publicity. With the development of the autonomous communities in Spain there appeared during the 1980s a number of regional and local radio networks run by the various autonomous governments. The highest audiences for radio programmes are achieved by the early morning news programmes and the tertulias (discussions), both of them being popularly broadcast between 9–10 a.m. The sports programmes also attract a large following.
   Television is the communication medium which has experienced the largest increase in variety and services in Spain. It began to operate as a state service in 1956, under the strict control of the regime. The present structure of the public television system dates from 1980, when the Estatuto de Radio y Television (Radio and Television Statute) was passed. This statute established various parliamentary groups for control of the medium, as well as a Consejo de Administración (administration board) for regulating and managing its functioning.
   In 1994 public television adopted a new strategy in order to reaffirm its public identity and differentiate it from its private competitors. The competition for audience share between the state-run channels and the three main private channels, and the need to adapt to the new technology, especially cable, satellite and digital television, have inaugurated a new era for television in Spain. Of the two state-run channels, TVE1 is directed to a general public, offering uninterrupted programming from early morning to late at night and has the largest overall audience, despite the intense competition of the private television channels for specific programmes and times. TVE2 has a more flexible programming, which pays special attention to sports broadcasts and live broadcasts of important cultural events. The 1980 Statute also allowed the establishment of a third regional channel, dependent for control and financial support on the autonomous communities, in order to enable them to express their own identities. In Euskadi, Euskal Televista was set up in 1983, broadcasting in Basque. Subsequently, Catalonia developed its own channel, TV3, followed by the Galician TVG. Since then, other regional channels have developed, including: Canal Sur in Andalusia, with 2.1 million viewers in 1993, TeleMadrid with 1.2 million viewers and Canal 9 in Valencia, with 1.2 million spectators. Moreover, Euskadi and Catalonia have created their own fourth territorial channel, ETB2 and Canal 33 respectively, and other regions have begun negotiations for creating their own channels. Private television networks began in 1990. Licences were granted on condition that ownership of the private channels was predominantly Spanish and that at least 15 percent of the output was homeproduced. Antena 3 was the first channel to operate, followed by Tele 5, and finally by Canal + in 1990. The programming of these channels is mainly based on a combination of news, games and films. Their emphasis is more on entertainment than on information and, except for Canal + (which is supported by subscriptions), all channels, including the state-run ones, depend financially on advertising revenue. Spanish viewers" preferences hardly differ from those of other western European countries. In order to retain audiences, television networks compete with a very similar mix of programming, mostly composed of news, sports, Latin American telenovelas or culebrones (soap operas) broadcast at midday, quiz shows and repeats. Films made for television, mostly imported from the US, dominate prime time hours and attract the largest audiences. Spanish programmes such as La Clave, Informe Semanal (Weekly Report) and ¿Quién sabe dónde? (Who Knows Where?) have gained a loyal audience throughout years. In this context, it is worth mentioning that the only originally Spanish idea to have crossed the borders with success has been the game-show Un, Dos, Tres (One, Two, Three).
   The attempt by the Spanish media to respond to the trends set in other western European countries has resulted in a number of fundamental structural changes from the mid-1980s to the mid-1990s, in particular the attempt to reach specific market sectors and also the increasing penetration of the media market by foreign capital, with consequent influence on the Spanish cultural industry. From the 1980s onwards, the communication business in Spain has maximized its profits by adapting to market globalization and to the diversification of consumerism. The enormous attention paid by the big communication groups to the Spanish media market has been mainly due to the steady increase in per capita income and consumer indices in Spain, and the relative saturation of communications markets in northern Europe, which have shown a level of growth well below that of southern Europe. Spain has therefore become an attractive country for their acquisition and expansion strategies. See also: Basque television; Catalan television; kiosk literature; publishing; regionalism; social attitudes; society; youth culture
   Further reading
   - Aguilera Moyano, M. de (1991) "Las Comunicaciones Sociales", in J.Vidal Beneyto (ed.) España a Debate, Madrid: Editorial Tecnos (a theoretical analysis of the media as a politicized and commercial industry).
   - Bernández, A. (1991) "The Mass Media" in A. Ramon Gascon (ed.) Spain Today: In Search of Modernity, Madrid: Cátedra (pp. 431–54 offer an informative account of the changes which have occurred in the Spanish media, from the Francoist censorship to the globalization of the 1980s and 1990s).
   - de Miguel, A. (1994) La Sociedad Española 1993-1994. Informe Sociológico de la Universidad Complutense, Madrid: Alianza Editorial (see pp. 679–736 for a sociological study of Spanish attitudes towards the media, covering aspects such as: reading habits, radio audiences, the importance of television, popularity and the use and abuse of language in the media).
   - Graham, H. and Labanyi, J. (eds) (1995) Spanish Cultural Studies: An Introduction, Oxford: Oxford University Press (pp. 356–73 contain several articles dealing with the evolution and modernization of the media in Spain, from the dictatorship up to the mid-1990s, with an expanded analysis on television).
   - Hooper, J. (1995) The New Spaniards, Harmondsworth: Penguin (chapters 21 and 22 provide a detailed sociological view on the Spanish media, from Franco's dictatorship to the 1980s, including some useful statistics).

Encyclopedia of contemporary Spanish culture. 2013.

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