A step towards protecting the Catalan language in the audiovisual sector that needs to be specified

2 min
The spokesman of ERC to Congress, Gabriel Rufian, at the press conference where the agreement was announced.

The fact that ERC has not presented any amendments to the state budget in its entirety will allow them to be processed. It is a first step towards an understanding with the PSOE on a key issue: guaranteeing a quota for the presence of Catalan on digital platforms for audiovisual content. Republicans and socialists have agreed to jointly approve the new audiovisual law and protect the co-official languages, although for now no percentage has been specified.

This pact, reached at the last moment, is only the first phase of the negotiation, almost a declaration of intent. More dialogue and understanding will be needed to close a quota for Catalan. And the PSOE's willingness to collaborate in the defence of the other languages of the State that are not Spanish will be put to the test. It also remains to be clarified how dubbing in the co-official languages will be guaranteed and what role the financing of the autonomous television channels will have in the new law.

The subscription portals of series, films and documentaries have become one of the main entertainment platforms. But Catalan still has a marginal presence in them. According to a study by the Audiovisual Council of Catalonia, the Catalan language does not have a strong presence in them, ranging from 0.1% to 1.3% on Netflix, HBO, Disney+ and Amazon. Filmin is the exception to be highlighted, with a portal dedicated to products in Catalan and a weight of 18.9% of the content. HBO, on the other hand, only has 0.1% of the more than 1,700 contents it offers in Catalan.

As a country, we cannot allow our own language to be left out of the main forms of leisure, the ones that lead to conversations in the bar, among friends, at work and in schools. Especially when we know that Catalan is losing ground among young people in Barcelona itself, where, according to a City Council survey made public this summer only 28% of those between 15 and 34 speak it on a regular basis.

This agreement has another aspect that must be taken into account: it is a gesture along the lines of allowing the institutions not to get bogged down and to be able to manage. We are still in the midst of the crisis caused by the pandemic, although the health data indicate that we may already be on the exit ramp. And a crisis cannot be overcome easily with our hands tied. Failure to achieve budgets adapted to the current economic and social situation would be to trip up a population that is already sufficiently punished.

Beyond the importance of the budgets themselves, ERC has now guaranteed that the PSOE will only agree with them on the audiovisual law, but it remains to be seen what can come out of this pact and what is the limit of the PSOE's flexibility. When the details of the agreement are finalised it will be possible to see to what extent it will have been justified, and whether it will have been worth it. Allowing the budgets to be processed is a gesture of goodwill that the socialists will have to demonstrate what consequences it will have in practice.