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Catalan taps Majo man

New topper takes over regional TV reigns in Spain

MADRID — Joan Majo, Spain’s socialist minister for industry in 1985-’86, has been tapped as the general manager and No. 1 at the Catalan Radio and Television Corp. (CCRTV).

CCRTV’s TV arm, the Catalan-language Televisio de Catalunya (TVC), is Spain’s biggest, most-respected and most-popular regional pubcaster. Ratified by the Catalan government Jan. 16, Majo’s appointment comes after regional elections in Barcelona and other parts of Catalonia on Nov. 16. Majo’s appointment was proposed by the new Catalan premier, the socialist Pasqual Maragall.

Although Majo is a friend and supporter of Maragall, the new premier’s election manifesto includes legislation aimed at guaranteeing the independence of CCRTV from government manipulation, partly through a fixed term mandate for a CCRTV general manager.

Majo faces several challenges.

One is to contain CCRTV’s debt — put at 800 million euros ($992 million) by some sources.

Majo will no doubt espouse the traditional aims of CCRTV of promoting Catalan-language programming and the Catalan TV and film industry.

What that will mean in practice will have film and TV producers in Barcelona, Spain’s second-biggest production hub, awaiting Majo’s moves with keen interest.

Since the late ’90s, TVC has emerged as an aggressive financier of fiction, including soaps and TV movies, and an important source of financing for the Spanish film industry as it has sought to pull down additional TV money beyond coin from national broadcasters.

Trade union reps at TVC are already tubthumping for more TVC money to be funneled into in-house production rather than out-of-house programming made by indie producers.

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