30/11/2021

The protection of Catalan, a national issue

2 min
Nadia Calviño during the Council of Ministers press conference.

BarcelonaCatalan is in a frankly difficult situation. This is demonstrated by the main indicators, and it is easily detectable if one has the slightest sensitivity. There are many factors that influence this constant weakening of the language, but not the least of these is the limited presence of Catalan on the big streaming platforms such as Netflix or HBO. That is why it was so important to ensure a minimum presence of Catalan on these platforms through the audiovisual law, and that is why ERC's agreement with the Spanish government to set a minimum of 6% for co-official languages was perfectly reasonable and also gave some oxygen to the Catalan film industry.

But this Tuesday, the Spanish government watered down the proposal stating that the quotas were not applicable to platforms that are not based in Spain, i.e. the main ones that we all know and that have the majority of the market pie. This clarification was made a week after the approval of the budget, and therefore it all seemed a dirty manoeuvre where it was not clear what role ERC had played, since ERC took a long time to react despite the note it distributed with the budget agreement explicitly mentioning Netflix.

The fact is that ERC has ended up doing the only thing it could do, and that is to make its vote on the budget in the Senate and also its vote on the bill conditional on the fact that the requirement that the quotas apply to all platforms available in Spain and not only to those that have their headquarters here is met. It seems, moreover, that there are European precedents that would allow these companies to be forced to comply with language quotas and other types of obligations. It cannot be that, once again, the big companies find a way to avoid their duty to respect linguistic and cultural plurality, not only of Spain, but even of Europe.

The PSOE and the vice-president, Nadia Calviño, have never been keen on the idea of setting conditions for the big platforms because they want them to end up settling in Spanish territory. This is a very laudable objective, but in no case should it go against linguistic diversity. Experience shows that only by means of incentives is it very difficult for them to end up investing in productions in Catalan, Galician or Basque. There needs to be a minimum obligation, and 6% does not seem an unachievable milestone either. It is a minimum demand.

The law has been negotiated by ERC, but the defence of Catalan has to be a national position, whether in the audiovisual sector or in schools. ERC ought to try to build a consensus with the rest of the Catalanist forces, even with the PSC, to join forces in the Spanish Parliament and find a way to protect both immersion and quotas in the audiovisual sector. The president, Pere Aragonès, has expressed his intention to set in motion a National Pact for the Language that includes this great consensus of the country. The first stone of this pact would have to be, however, to reverse the situation created with the audiovisual law.

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