press ownership

press ownership
   The diversity of press ownership in Spain before 1936 gave way after the Civil War to rigid state control, which allowed only sympathizers or governmental institutions to run newspapers. After Franco's death, the return of democracy, accompanied by a free-enterprise economic system, restored proprietorial freedom. In the new democratic Spain, newspapers increasingly constitute one component in diversified media groups, while the nation's European outlook has attracted the presence of international companies, especially in the expanding special-interest market. Under the Second Republic (1931–6), ownership ranged from private individuals and families to trade unions and the Roman Catholic church. In the ensuing Civil War (1936–9), the victorious rebel forces appropriated newspapers in occupied areas, while the consequent Press Law (1938) made them the servants of an authoritarian state which restricted ownership to sympathizers. Confiscated publications reappeared under new titles as part of the subsidized press of the National Movement, established in 1940. Papers previously owned by monarchist interests, ABC and La Vanguardia, were returned to their owners, but with editors imposed or approved by government. The other permitted independent interest group, the church, controlled the national daily Ya, as well as regional and weekly publications. The ascendancy of the Catholic organization Opus Dei from the late 1950s encouraged the existence of periodicals owned or influenced by leading members. From a reader's perspective, though, ownership seemed secondary, because of state control of the contents via censorship and directives. Conditions moderated somewhat in the 1960s as a result of the regime's wish to seem less repressive (see also Press Law). Journals owned by interests favouring pluralism appeared, notably Cuadernos para el Diálogo and the re-launched Revista de Occidente. Radical change awaited Franco's demise. El País, whose origins stretched back to 1972, finally appeared in May 1976, with shareholders of diverse political opinions, and, as the democratizing project of Adolfo Suárez took shape, other new titles were launched. The populist Diario 16 was spawned in October 1976 by Cambio 16, the magazine set up by sixteen progressive businessmen and journalists in 1971. Regional political interests in Catalonia and the Basque country inaugurated dailies in Catalan and Basque, Avui (1976) and Deia (1977). On the abolition of the National Movement (1977), its newspapers reverted to the state, which unhurriedly sold them to private, often regionallybased, interests.
   At national level the increasing play of market forces brought commercial criteria to the fore. Established papers under family ownership (La Vanguardia and ABC) were restructured. Narrowly based political and general interest magazines, not only the outstanding Cuadernos para el Diálogo and Triunfo, but also Doblón, Mundo, Posible, and various others, folded when abandoned by their readers. Successful companies diversified: Interviú, a weekly with pin-ups launched in May 1976 by a group led by Antonio Asensio, gave rise to the daily, El Periódico de Catalunya, in 1978. The football newspaper Marca, previously part of the National Movement press, was bought by Punto Editorial (which later became Recoletos) in 1984, and, after modernization, greater professionalism, and support from the British Pearson group, it became in the early 1990s the most read daily paper. Other foreign-based multinational groups-Bertelsmann, Hachette, Haymarket, Rizzoli and Springer—entered the market, encouraged by Spain's European aspirations, launching specialinterest periodicals or setting up joint ventures with Spanish groups.
   Several prominent or established players experienced failures, as national dailies competed for an intractably static readership. The Roman Catholic Church, owner of Ya, sold its newspapers in 1988 to the business group Bilbao Editorial/ Comecosa. Further owners and difficulties ensued and the title even closed briefly in 1996. El Independiente, launched as a weekly in 1987, became a daily in 1989. but after a controlling interest was sold to the ONCE, and despite subsequent rescue attempts, it finally disappeared (1991). German Sánchez Rui-pérez, majority shareholder of book publisher Anaya, launched a national daily, El Sol, in May 1990, which folded after twenty-two months. Shorter-lived still was the sensationalist daily, Claro, the result of collaboration between ABC and the German publisher Springer; born in April 1991, it was defunct four months later.
   The only success among new national dailies has been El Mundo, created in 1989 by Spanish interests centred on a previous major shareholder in the 16 Group, Alfonso de Salas; within two years the Italian company Rizzoli-Corriere della Sera owned 45 percent of the paper. The ailing 16 Group, under administration after being taken over by the financier José Luis Domínguez, reverted in August 1996 to its founder and former chairman, Juan Tomás de Salas. Only PRISA, owner of El País, has grown consistently, to embrace radio, television and publishing interests, its originally broad ownership subsequently concentrating around Jesus de Polanco.
   Since the late 1980s there have been constant changes of ownership or control in Spain's press, with Spain's principal banks as covert leading protagonists. Precise, up-to-date information is not easy to obtain; most companies are not listed on the Spanish stock exchange, and in certain instances, the outstanding case being the Luca de Tena family who control ABC, ownership disguises control. Readership remains low, while titles come and go. Successful innovation has centred primarily on special-interest publications. The most buoyant have concerned hobbies, finance and sport, particularly football. A successful group may own a national daily, a sporting and financial title, as well as specialinterest magazines. Current forecasts predict increased concentration of ownership, based on internationally oriented multimedia companies.
   Further reading
   - Barrera, C. (1995). Sin mordaza. Veinte años de prensa en democracia, Madrid: Temas de hoy (the fullest account of the press since 1975).
   - Deacon, P. (1995). The Press as Mirror of the New Spain, Bristol: Department of Hispanic, Portuguese and Latin-American Studies, University of Bristol (the press from political, economic and social perspectives).
   - Edo, C. (1994) La crisis de la prensa diaria. La línea editorial y la trayectoria de los periódicos de Madrid, Barcelona: Ariel (focused on policies, ownership and circulation).
   - Hooper, J. (1995). The New Spaniards, Harmondsworth: Penguin (chapter twenty-one traces general and specific trends in the media).
   PHILIP DEACON

Encyclopedia of contemporary Spanish culture. 2013.

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