By Alan Knight
Just recently I travelled to Barcelona to interview two journalists form TV3 Catalonia, an independent TV station within the nation of Catalonia, Spain, as part of my documentary about BBC bias during the Scottish referendum.
Monica Terribas and Toni Cruanyes (Directors/Journalists) both kindly agreed to be filmed, and we discussed the history and purpose of TV3 in Catalonia, the situation regarding Catalan independence, the impact of TV3 in terms of informing and educating the public on Catalan cultural and political issues, and the problems they face dealing with a leaden, reactionary Spanish State.
Below is a short edited clip of both journalists. A longer version will be appearing in the documentary.
Both journalists were certainly interested in the continuing independence struggle in Scotland. We encouraged them to visit if there was another referendum, and recommended that they treat any information coming out of the BBC with considerable caution!
Catalonia has had an indigenous media for decades. Newspapers and broadcast media sympathetic and/or supportive of independence for the Catalonian people have existed alongside those sympathetic to a unified Spain. This pluralistic media is as natural as democracy itself and of course both go hand in hand.
We in Scotland have one without the other. Our democracy thrives, not because of our media but in spite of it. Our media, notwithstanding the Sunday Herald and National, is dominated by pro-Union news and commentary and there is no more dominant voice than BBC Scotland.
Most of the criticism aimed at BBC Scotland by supporters of independence focuses on the broadcasters inherent Unionism. Any organisation controlled from London cannot be impartial when it comes to the constitutional debate. The political coverage from BBC Scotland will always be biased in favour of the Union as long as this situation prevails.
But there’s another strand to the arguments in favour of a more autonomous BBC in Scotland – culture. The move towards indigenous Catalonian media began back in 1983. But it wasn’t motivated by political desires, it was culturally driven.
The Catalonian parliament recognised the region needed its own media to allow it to express itself. This led to the creation of a national TV and Radio station controlled not by the Spanish parliament but by the Catalonian parliament. TV3 is the national broadcaster of Catalonia. It has been broadcasting for fully thirty three years.
TV3 has not displaced its Spanish public broadcasting counterpart. Despite having been in existence for decades TV3 accounts for only twenty per cent of the audience enjoyed by Corporación de Radio y Televisión Española in Catalonia. Nevertheless, when one considers the Yes campaign fell just six per cent short in the Scottish independence referendum then one can see how a Scottish equivalent to TV3 might have made the difference.
I left Barcelona with an admiration for the Catalans and a renewed sense of purpose. Until and unless Scotland controls its own national broadcaster then we absolutely must highlight the failure of BBC Scotland to carry out its duty to inform and educate in a politically neutral manner. I hope my forthcoming documentary will help in that regard.
Filming for the documentary is all but complete. We are now in the production and edit phase. I’m hopeful of releasing the finished version early this summer. It will have a high production value and, I hope, will provide a worthy follow up to the excellent book by GA Ponsonby on which it is based.
When I started this project last year I launched an appeal for £20,000. I was stunned by the support and genuinely grateful to receive three quarters of my target. I still have to find the remaining £5000 or so in order to complete the project to the standard required. I will be launching a second top-up appeal within the coming weeks.
If you wish, you can pre-empt the appeal by clicking the donate button below. You can do so in the assurance that the donation will be wisely spent.