Nearly five years after they began broadcasting, Spain’s private television stations are struggling to stay afloat. Fierce competition for advertising, poor-quality programming and rising operating costs have plunged the two leading private channels deep into debt.
Meanwhile, the two state-owned television stations “have lost identity and quality” in their attempt to keep up with competitors, according to the private research foundation Fundesco in its annual report on mass communication in Spain.
In short, Fundesco says, Spain’s audiovisual sector is undergoing a “profound crisis.” State-owned Television Espanola is expected to experience losses of almost 130 billion pesetas ($983.3 million) this year, even though it receives state subsidies and income from advertising.
Trouble is also afoot at Telecinco, the private station partly owned by Fininvest, the media company owned by outgoing Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi. The station has had losses of about six billion pesetas this year and was overtaken last year in viewer-ship by rival Antena 3 Television.
Employees at Telecinco staged the country’s first strike by a private station last week to protest plans to lay off workers. The stoppage was called two weeks after the resignation of managing director Valerio Lazarov, the executive who has led Telecinco since it began broadcasting in 1990.