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How to cite this article in bibliograhies / References

N López Vidales, L Gómez Rubio, D Vicente Torrico  (2017): “Regional news in Spain’s national radio and television and their contribution to the image of Spain’s autonomous communities”. Revista Latina de Comunicación Social, 72, pp. 649 to 666.
DOI: 10.4185/RLCS-2017-1184  

Regional news in Spain’s national radio and television and their contribution to the image of Spain’s autonomous communities

Nereida López Vidales [CV] o http://orcid.org/0000-0002-6960-6129 g http://scholar.google.es/citations?user=d-h-uasAAAAJ&hl=es  Full Professor of Journalism. Universidad de Valladolid / University of Valladolid (Spain) nereida.lopez@hmca.uva.es

Leire Gómez Rubio [CV]o  http://orcid.org/0000-0002-6436-0297 g http://scholar.google.es/citations?user=dufyKbUAAAAJ&hl=es  Assistant Professor of Journalism. Universidad de Valladolid / University of Valladolid (Spain) leire.gomez@hmca.uva.es

David Vicente Torrico [CV] o http://orcid.org/0000-0003-0379-6086 ghttps://scholar.google.es/citations?user=3DMiJ-0AAAAJ&hl=es Researcher in training. Universidad de Valladolid / University of Valladolid (Spain) david.vicente.torrico@uva.es

Introduction: National radio and television news programmes are daily sources of information for an increasing audience and, thus, are important tools in the shaping of the image of the Spanish autonomous communities that are represented in their news stories. The main objective of this article is to analyse the representations of the different Spanish autonomous communities in the regional news of mainstream national radio and television news programmes. Methods: The study combines quantitative and qualitative content analyses, which facilitate the collection of relevant data about the units of analysis: radio and television channels with the highest ratings in Spain in 2017: Cadena SER, Onda Cero, COPE, RNE, Telecinco, Antena 3 and TVE. The sample is composed of 848 news items selected from news programmes broadcast on weekdays, from 14:00 to 15:00 hours, in January and February 2017. Results and conclusions: The regional news stories offered by national radio and television news programmes are dominated by three autonomous communities -Catalonia, Andalusia and Madrid- and three news categories: politics, society and accidents and crime.

Regional news; news services; radio; television; media representations.

1. Introduction. 1.1. Objectives and hypothesis. 2. Methods. 3. The daily presence of regional news in radio and television newscasts. 3.1. Results about radio newscasts. 3.1.1. Hora 14, Cadena Ser. 3.1.2. Mediodía COPE, Cadena COPE. 3.1.3. Noticias Mediodía, Onda Cero Radio. 3.1.4. Diario de las 2, Radio Nacional de España. 3.2. Results about television newscasts. 3.2.1. Informativos Telecinco. 3.2.2. Antena 3 Noticias. 3.2.3. Telediario 1. 4. Discussion and conclusions. 5. Notes. 6. References.

Translation by CA Martínez-Arcos
(PhD in Communication, University of London)

 [ Research ] [ Funded ] 
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1. Introduction

The newscasts of mainstream national radio and television networks are still the main sources of information for Spanish people, and this suggests that their influence on the public opinion in general is very important [1]. In the case of radio, the audience, from Monday to Friday, of the mainstream national networks -RNE, COPE, SER and Onda Cero- reached 10,427,000 listeners in January 2017, while the lunchtime news programmes of the four aforementioned stations reached half a million daily listeners. Regarding television, in February 2017 there was a “technical tie” between the lunchtime and evening news programmes of La 1 and Telecinco, with 2,065,000 and 2,061,000 viewers, respectively, while the news programme of Mediaset was the leader in the evening slot, from Monday to Sunday, and La 1 was the leader in the lunchtime slot from Monday to Friday, with a share of 15.9%, followed by Telecinco (13.8%), Antena 3 (13.1%), La Sexta (12.7%) and Cuatro (11%) (Barlovento Comunicación, 2017).

These audience data show that the public still prefers to turn to mainstream news programmes to obtain information. Thus, the objective and subjective messages that these news services transmit to millions of daily users become very important in the understanding of many cognitive, perceptive and communicative processes on the social reality and its protagonists.

It is a fact that news programmes constitute a nuclear element in the mainstream programming. As noted by Delgado and Prado, the news programme is a flagship genre for audiences, one of the main elements of a network’s brand image and audience loyalty. At present, and although some newscasts preserve the original spirit and give privilege to hard news in their agenda, soft news are gaining ground as a general trend and sensationalism, spectacularisation and life-style news are becoming more and more common (2010:11).

In the current globalised context, media society is defined as the society for whom the media is the main source of meanings. The media are the access point to the core of the society (Couldry & Hepp, 2012:97). But the media do not transmit all the available information. They select only a portion of the available information (Igartua & Muñiz, 2007:49), they produce stories that, as all stories, simplify the political and social space that they describe (Couldry & Hepp, 2012:92). Moreover, the same attributes that are highlighted by the media are also highlighted by the public (McCombs, 2004:164), so those things that the media ignores, may very well not exist for the audience (Pitts, 2001:223) because the media set the public agenda and direct the social dialogue. What we know about our society, even about the world we live in, we know it from the media (Luhmann, 1996:2).

For most citizens, almost all the knowledge about the political and social realms is constructed through the media (Crespo, Moreno & Delgado, 2003:13-14) so that what is written in the newsrooms about what is considered news-worthy, based on values such as importance, interest, number of affected people and geographical proximity (Wolf, 1987: 222-248), is crucial to build the social representation and the collective imagination. As Wagner (1994:199) points out, social representations are often defined as a set of beliefs, images, metaphors and symbols shared by a group, community, society, or culture and it is here where the most convenient reality that citizens can perceive acquires special relevance because what is not referred to by the media can be translated as the most inconvenient subjects of reality and therefore there is a lack of collective opinion about them (Lozano, Piñuel & Gaitán, 2010:4). Ultimately, what we think we know is something of which we have heard of, something that has been told to us, whose truth is maintained by the trust in institutions, authorities, witnesses and experts (Lozano et al., 2010:13).

In relation to the relationship between the media and the audience, and in particular between the image of reality (or realities) that the former project on the latter, we also consider Zavala’s idea (2003) that the image is like a mirror where our own identity is projected, recognised and recreated through the exercise of sensitivity (cited in Cañamero, 2014:353). This is because the information transmitted by the media contribute “to the dissemination of representations that produce meanings (ideas, views, topics), on other territories, peoples and cultures, building an image about them” (Escudero, 2005:223). The media do not only provide national information and images, but also proximity information and images through the different regional news included in the news programmes, which acquire special relevance, since “a local society without information of proximity cannot reflect its own plurality or diversity” (Chomón, 2011:21). Regional news pieces have also had for decades an added value in the autonomous communities where regional and local television arrived late.

The literature review carried out for this research has revealed that publications about our object of study are scarce and sometimes non-existent for most autonomous communities. The communities that do have relevant studies of this type include: 1) Andalusia, with the study carried out by the Official Institute of RTVE for the Audiovisual Council of Andalusia in 2009, and an earlier study titled “The image of Andalusia in Spanish TV news programmes” (Ruiz Morales, 2007), funded by the Junta of Andalucía; 2) Navarre, which in 2006 published the third report on “The image of Navarre in the media” (Sánchez-Aranda and García-Ortega, 2006); 3) Extremadura, with the study titled “Extremadura represented in the media. Intertextuality and stereotypes” (Cañamero, 2014); 4) Galicia, with Galicia en cartel. A imaxe de Galicia na cartelaria turística (Several authors, 2005), and 5) Castile and León, with a study on the image of Castile and León in the national press (Berrocal, Campos & Martínez, 2016).

Based on the approaches of the aforementioned studies, this study aims to further examine how news programmes contribute with their news and, to a lesser extent, comments to the construction of the collective imaginary about these broad social, geographical and political units called autonomous communities. This article presents the results of a research on the representation of the different regions of Spain by national radio and television newscasts to determine whether these contents contribute to the formation of certain images about the autonomous communities. This is important to determine because, despite the digital world and the new technologies have opened up a new channel to share knowledge and create online contents (López-Vidales, Gómez-Rubio & Tapia-López, 2015), conventional mainstream media still have a remarkable acceptance among the Spanish population.


1.1. Objectives and hypothesis

As mentioned, the fundamental aim of this study is to examine the image projected by audiovisual media, radio and television in particular, about the different autonomous communities and their populations through the news included in their daily news programmes. For this purpose, prime time news programmes are analysed, paying special attention to the news generated inside and outside each of the Spanish territories, the nature of the news that are generated and the role played by the autonomous communities in the national news. This analysis will allow us to undertake, intrinsically, a comparison between the different autonomous communities based on the news in which they appear as protagonists, on the values related to such news, on the format used to present the news from the journalistic point of view, and on the approach and resources that are used to present and disseminate the news.

Our analysis is guided by the general hypothesis that the regional information offered by national mainstream radio and television news services is reduced and is dominated by those regions with greater political, economic and social weight in Spain, such as Madrid and Catalonia, while the other regions only appear in these newscasts when an event of high social impact takes place.

2. Methods

The study is based on a combination of quantitative and qualitative content analysis that will provide relevant data on the units of analysis, through the use a data collection matrix that takes into account all the observation variables that are fundamental to achieve our research objectives [2]. The sample is composed of a total of 848 audiovisual news items extracted from the primetime (lunchtime) weekdays newscasts (35 complete spaces) of national mainstream radio and television networks: Cadena SER, Cadena COPE, RNE 1, Onda Cero, TVE1, Antena 3 TV and Tele 5. The selected broadcast time slots are: 14 to 15 hours for radio newscasts and 15 to 16 hours for television newscasts [3]. The period of analysis covers January and February 2017, based on a random unit selection that takes into account the five weekdays, Monday to Friday.

This selection of non-consecutive days aims to avoid the persistence of some news stories over time, such as the crisis of the political parties PSOE and Unidos Podemos, the measures adopted by Donald Trump, as the President of the United States, and the recent political corruption trials that took place in Spain. The analysis of the news programmes is based on the information made available in their respective websites.

The justification of the research sample comes from the need to include national news programmes with high ratings in all Spanish households. The sampling method provides a selection of material of analysis that is in line with previous similar studies (Humanes, 2001; López Téllez & Cuenca García, 2005).

Our analysis focuses on the news content of each newscast [4], but also considers the commentary presented in some programmes when they are relevant to the final interpretation [5]. The purpose-created coding matrix includes the following general aspects: unit coding, formal aspects, themes and protagonists; specific analysis of the news object of research; and general valuations of order, presentation of information, focus, depth and final perception of content. Thus, the quantitative analysis focuses on: the broadcasting network; the news programme; duration; length of news items; total number of news, interviews (and other genres, if any); list of headlines and duration; list of news and other information formats (by sections) and duration of each unit; headlines and news dedicated to other territories and their duration. On the other hand, the qualitative analysis will focus on: the regional news (of each autonomous community); the broadcasting network; format; duration; inclusion in main news; order; news section and area; resources used; positive, negative or neutral perception of news depending on the language used, the journalistic approach; choice of adjectives and depth.

Finally, the final interpretation and analysis takes into account aspects related to the way in which the news are presented, the relevance granted within the programme, the assessment of the actions presented and the uncertain sense of the journalistic opportunity of presenting certain information and excluding other information.


3. The daily presence of regional news in radio and television newscasts

The presentation of results considers the general audience of each of the news media included in the sample. First, we present the data about radio newscasts followed by the results about television newscasts.


3.1. Results about radio newscasts

Spanish national mainstream radio stations have daily regional disconnections to inform citizens about each of the autonomous communities to their respective populations. These news spaces tend to be shown immediately before the national newscast, at about 1 PM, and they contain information of proximity, local and specific, where the protagonists are the administrations, groups and citizens of each territory. The national newscasts generally start at 2:00 PM in all stations and they tend to present the events with wider general influence in comparison to the more particular interest of the regional disconnections. We can agree, then, that the presence of regional information in these newscasts is reduced, but the multinational reality of Spain make unfeasible the development of a one-hour newscast that makes no reference to the events taking place in the autonomous communities that often set the political, economic and cultural agenda across the country.

Of the radio stations included in the study -SER, COPE, Onda Cero and RNE-, the public broadcaster offers, within its newscasts, the largest number of news about the autonomous communities. During the analysed period, a total of 45 regional news pieces were offered by this network, compared to the 22 offered by COPE, 20 by Onda Cero and 17 by SER, which is an average of 9 news items per day, and nearly 21 between all the networks. This is consistent with the fact that, of the four networks, the newscast of RNE has the longest duration, around 60 minutes, while the newscast of Cadena SER hardly lasts 30 minutes, due to the length of the regional disconnection and advertising space. Of the autonomous communities, Catalonia receives the widest news coverage, with a total of 35 pieces and more than 57 minutes during the analysed week. Although its presence in newscasts is constant, Catalonia starred in the largest number of news on 2 February [6], with a total of 8 pieces and 18:15 minutes between all the stations. Most of the news are related to the political confrontation between the regional and the central governments, as a result of the independence process driven by Puigdemont’s team, and the judicial consequences of the referendum held on 9 November 2014. This made the Politics section to occupy more space in the analysed newscasts, with an average duration of 12.30 minutes and 6 daily news pieces.

Figure 1. Informative weight of regional news on radio stations


Source: Authors’ own creation.

Figure 2. Time dedicated to regional information on national mainstream radio


Source: Authors’ own creation.


3.1.1. Hora 14, Cadena SER

Cadena SER, with 4,200,000 listeners (31.1% share), was the most popular Spanish mainstream radio station in January 2017. The newscast Hora 14, presented by José Antonio Marcos, has more than 550,000 daily listeners (EGM, 2017). The internal structure of this programme shows a gap between the traditional large news blocks [7]. It begins with a 6-7-minute long battery of headlines, which includes an average of 12 headlines, followed by the regional disconnection that concludes the first half hour of the programme; it then repeats the battery of headlines, with slight variations, and afterwards presents the main news of the day (about 10) [8]. In the last 5 minutes of the programme the 3 most important news events of the day are presented, in a brief format, and later the anchor ends the programme, usually, with pieces dedicated to leisure and culture.

In terms of news sections, the Politics and International news occupied the largest share of the programme (80%), which makes it a markedly political space. The treatment of the news events is interpretive, both by the host and reporters of the programme [9], due to the abundant use of adjectives and the tone used to present them.

Regarding the information about the different autonomous communities, there is a relative balance between all the territories. The most covered community is Catalonia, which generated twice as many news than Madrid and Andalusia. However, the coverage of the Summit of the Presidents of the Autonomous Communities, as well as the less news-worthy cases of corruption and traffic accidents allow the rest of regions to have a presence, although smaller. In the case of Catalonia, its lack of understanding with the central government, the corruption cases and the instability of the covenant formed by JxSí (Junts pel Sí) and the CUP (Candidatura d'Unitat Popular / Popular Unity Candidacy) [10] led to a sharply negative treatment, with abundant epithets: “absence”, “meanness” (17/01/2017), “legality”, “respect”, “radicalness” (02/02/2017).

News about the courts in other regions, on the other hand, receive a discrete, non-judgemental treatment, such as the open trail on Ignacio González’s loft (25/01/2017) and the imputation of the President of Murcia (02/02/2017), which do not become more than headlines, and the cases of corruption in the City of Alcalá de Henares (09/01/2017) and the delegation of the UGT Trade Union in Asturias (17/01/2017), which are relegated to the last positions of the newscast.

The rest of the autonomous communities have a minimal presence: the Basque Country appears related to the dispersal of ETA prisoners (09/01/2017) and the absence of Iñigo Urkullu [11] at the Summit of the Presidents of the Autonomous Communities (17/01/2017); Galicia appears linked to the strong storm that hit it in January; and Castile and León is represented by two news stories about the good school results obtained in the PISA 2016 report (09/01/2017) and the extra cost of university fees in this autonomous community (25/01/2017). However, in this last news story, Castile and León share the protagonist role with Catalonia, Madrid and Andalusia.


3.1.2. Mediodía COPE, Cadena COPE

Cadena COPE, with 2,711,000 listeners (20.1% share), was the second most popular Spanish mainstream radio station in 2017. The newscast Mediodía COPE, hosted by José Luis Pérez and Pilar Cisneros, has an audience close to 200,000 listeners, after experiencing a 48% increase in 2016 with respect to 2015 (2017 EGM). The internal structure of the programme is not governed by the separation between large news blokes. Instead, its format is similar to the newscasts from other radio stations. This mainstream national newscast is one-hour long and is divided into two 30-minute spaces: the first of these spaces includes commentary from the editor on the day’s most prominent news, a battery of headlines ranging from 10-11 per day [12], the development of 3-5 news that are not explicitly distinguished as national or international (although they are presented consecutively and in that order), the most important news of the Community of Madrid [13], sports and a connection with the Traffic Department. The second section expands some of the news presented at the beginning of the news at 14:00 and introduces, by way of summary, other news about the economy, government, culture, accidents and crime, as well as commercial advertising and the network’s institutional advertising. The accidents & crime and international news sections are the longest in the newscasts. The number of news per news programme does not usually exceeds 20.

With regards to the treatment of information, there is an important dose of interpretation in some news, with abundant use of adjectives in many cases, and explicit comments by the programme’s hots on the most important news. The priority approach that seems to be promoted is “human interest”, which is used to develop the news in depth. As a result, the order of news includes first the victims of assaults, accidents and attacks, or those who suffer the consequences of any administrative negligence or institutional, political, economic or natural measure. The most common resources are live connections with street reporters and the writing and inclusion of statements from the protagonists of the events, where it is customary to find both citizen voices and official sources.

Regarding the prominence of the autonomous communities, Catalonia stands out for generating twice as many news pieces as Madrid and Andalusia. Galicia also has a significant presence, although in this case it refers to political references linked to the government of the Popular Party, accidents and crime, and the arrival of the winter weather. With regards to Catalonia, and with a clearly negative approach, the newscasts highlights the gap between the Catalan and Spanish governments on the occasion of the independence process and point out that the actions of the current Catalan President -Carles Puigdemont- and the autonomous institutions are interested and are linked to the independence movement –“pure ideology” (25/01/2017)- and that they are inefficient with the citizens of this community and the rest of Spain (“they do not have any degree of humanity”, “they are arrogant”, “unconcerned by the problems of citizens”  (25 January 2017).

The rest of the autonomous communities appear in news mainly about accidents and crime (the cases of Andalusia [14] and Galicia), the weather and anecdotal issues. The Basque Country has an exceptional presence in political news such as the Summit of the Presidents of the Autonomous Communities at the Senate and the appointment of the new government delegate, which stresses the “reasonable similarities” with the Catalan pro-independence government, and point out that “they will be held accountable to the citizens”[15].


3.1.3. Noticias Mediodía, Onda Cero Radio

Onda Cero was the third most popular Spanish mainstream radio station in 2017, with a 14.9% share and 2,012,000 listeners. The newscast Noticias Mediodía, hosted by Elena Gijón and, occasionally, by Rafael Noblejas, has an audience of 204,000 listeners (EGM, 2017). The newscast is divided in two similar blocks, of 20 and 30 minutes, separated by a regional disconnection. Both blocks begin with a battery of headlines, usually 12, and develop 14 of the daily news. However, these spaces are not identical, and present differences in the headlines and news stories from one section to another. It also includes two references to the survey conducted in the network’s website and an opinion space about national and international political news.

Political news stories dominate the newscast, and occupy more than twice as much time as the rest of the sections together. The description of the daily reality is complemented by international and economy news, leaving very little room for cultural, society and accidents news. As for the treatment of events, it is very interpretative and uses a profuse amount of adjectives in the majority of cases. The approach used is usually negative when it comes to news about the courts, the government and the so-called “Catalan question”. The resources used by the newscast privilege the ideological position of the medium and, as in other cases, there is a clear majority of statements from institutions and political authorities against the scarce presence of citizens’ testimonies.

With respect to the news presence of the different autonomous communities of Spain, Noticias Mediodía focuses on Catalonia which generates 10 news items in the period of analysis, which is the same number of news generated by the rest of the communities combined, and always occupies a prominent place in the running order. The image of Catalonia is marked by its confrontation with the central government, the cases of corruption and the instability of the agreement between JxSí and CUP, which highlights a very negative treatment, with abundant epithets: “forced relief”, “internal war”, “end of cycle” (09/01/2017), “waste of time and money”, “ridiculous” (25/01/2017), “handlings”, “organised gang”, “illicit” (02/02/2017), “disobedience”, “rupture” (10/02/2017).

The Basque Country appears with a lower incidence and it becomes the negative protagonist of the Summit of the Presidents of the Autonomous Communities due to the absence of its representative. In addition, the appointment of the new government delegate is used by the Vice President of the Government, Soraya Sáenz de Santamaría, to appeal to collaboration and understanding, suggesting that the reticence comes from the Lehendakaritza.

The other regions have a minimal presence, which is linked to the Summit of the Presidents of the Autonomous Communities, an event which gives voice to Castile and León, Murcia and Extremadura, and alludes to the Canary Islands and Andalusia. The weather section refers to areas rather than regions, or specific populations; in these spaces Galicia and Castile and León are common.


3.1.4. Diario de las 2, Radio Nacional de España

RNE has 1,200,000 listeners in 2017, representing a share of 8.9%. Diario de las 2, hosted by Fernando Martín, has an audience of around 300,000 listeners, with an increasing trend during the previous year (EGM, 2017). The structure of this newscast is linear, beginning with a 6-7-minute-long battery of headlines, which includes an average of 10 headlines, and continues with the 36 news items, leaving no space for opinion, and frequently including a brief interview with political personalities. The newscast lasts one hour and has no regional disconnection.

Political and sports news occupy most of the broadcast time, although time distribution is much more balanced than in the rest of the analysed radio newscasts. There is an outstanding wide coverage of topics related to leisure and culture, as a result of the extensive network of regional centres and the structure of the newscast that favours their inclusion. The treatment of events is fundamentally informational and both host and correspondents avoid the interpretive and critical tone that is reserved for statements, although to a lesser extent with respect to the other stations. The most widely used general approach is he neutral one, based on the low use of adjectives and the variety of opinions.

As for the distribution by autonomous communities, Catalonia, with 15 news pieces, is the most represented [16], followed by Madrid, with 5, and Andalusia, with 4. The treatment of the news about Catalonia focuses on the political sphere, with the challenge of independence, the different judicial trials and, unlike the rest of the stations, with less news from the fields of culture and society. The predominant approach is the neutral one, thanks to the low use of adjectives and the contrast of statements, with a balanced distribution of time.

The rest of the autonomous communities have a scant presence in the political section and always appear in block, such as the Summit of the Presidents of the Autonomous Communities (17/01/2017) and the renewal of the Constitutional Court (25/01/2017). When they appear individually, with a certain protagonist role, they do so in sections such as society, culture and accidents. Thus, the news programmes highlight Mercasevilla’s trial in Andalusia (17/01/2017); the damage caused by a storm in Galicia (02/02/2017); an exhibition at the Guggenheim in the Basque Country (02/02/2017); and the results of the PISA results and the university fees (25/01/2017) in Castile and León (09/01/2017).


3.2. Results about television newscasts

Of the sample of television channels, Telecinco presents the largest number of news relating to the autonomous communities in its newscasts. In total, during the analysed period, Telecinco offered 65 regional news, against the 52 offered by TVE and the 39 of Antena 3, which represents an average of 13 regional news per day. This figure contrasts with the fact that, of the three TV channels, Telecinco’s newscast has the shortest duration, about 35 minutes, while the newscasts of TVE and Antena 3 last about 1 hour and 40 minutes, respectively, so the presence of regional news stands out even more.

Figure 3. Informative weight of regional news on television channels


Source: Authors’ own creation.

Of all the autonomous communities, Andalusia is the one that receives the longest coverage, with a total of 17 news items and around 20 minutes. Although it appears in at least one news piece every day throughout the period of analysis, it is on 17 January when this community receives the largest coverage, with a total of six pieces, followed by 10 February, with four pieces. Most of the news about Andalucía in Telecinco are related to accidents or crime stories, while those concerning regional politics or economic matters are a minority, which coincides with the weight given to accidents news in the theme distribution of this channel’s news programme. In fact, the accidents section is the longest and the one with more news stories, with an average of eight minutes and six pieces a day.

Figure 4. Time dedicated to regional news on national mainstream television


Source: Authors’ own creation.


3.2.1. Informativos Telecinco 1

In February 2017, Telecinco reached an audience of 2,061,000 viewers (Barlovento Comunicación, 2017). This newscast starts at 3 PM and lasts around 35 minutes in which about 27 news items are presented, all of them dedicated to general information, while sports news stories are offered later in an independent space. It is a newscast that, unlike other editions -like the morning edition- and the newscasts from other networks -like Antena 3 and TVE-, does not have a battery of headlines, and instead opens up with one or two features news stories. The programme is hosted by David Cantero and Isabel Jiménez.

Informativos Telecinco 1 stands out for the volume of information it dedicates to accidents and crimes of different kinds, including traffic accidents and cases of domestic violence and assault.

Regarding the regional information, Andalusia is the autonomous community that generated the largest number of news stories. During the analysed week, this region was represented in a total of 17 pieces. Although on all the days analysed we found informational notes, 17 January was the day with the largest number of news, 6, followed by 10 February, with 4. Most of these news stories are about accidents and crimes, particularly traffic accidents and the actions of the Civil Guard against drug traffickers on the Cadiz coast. The autonomous community with the second largest presence is Catalonia, with 9 news stories. In all cases, the pieces are negative, especially the political ones, which focus on the bad actions or wrong practices of pro-independence parties. There are six pieces about Castile and León, which are related to political issues, like the abandonment of the headquarters of the Socialist Party in Valladolid, Soraya Rodríguez, the low temperatures due to a cold wave and wind, the closure of the oldest oil well in Spain, two traffic accidents, and the possible reopening of the Garona plant.

Galicia received five news that gave voice to people on the streets, to talk about social issues and accidents and crimes. In the same vein, there are three news coming from the Basque Country: two of them focused on the consequences of the storm and the torrential rains, and the other on the death of a woman by a municipal sweeper. There is an outstanding lack of information about regional politics, especially considering that during those days the representatives of the autonomous communities attended the Summit of the Presidents of the Autonomous Communities, except for Catalonia and the Basque Country. Also represented are Murcia, Balearic Islands Canary Islands, Cantabria, Aragon, Extremadura, Castile-La Mancha, Melilla and Navarre. Some of them only appear once, as it is the case of the registration of the UGT headquarters in Oviedo and an incident at Melilla airport. Meanwhile, other territories appear on a regular basis in the newscasts, as in the case of Madrid.

The only regions that are featured in headlines are Catalonia, Cantabria, Madrid and Valencia, each of them with one headline.


3.2.2. Antena 3 Noticias

In February 2017, Antena 3 Noticias reached an audience of 1,848,000 viewers in the lunchtime and evening editions from Monday to Sunday, becoming the third most-watched television newscast, behind TVE and Telecinco (Barlovento Comunicación, 2017). The newscast starts at 3 PM and lasts around 40 minutes. During that time, it presents around 28-30 pieces of general information. The sports news pieces are presented in an independent space, but the sports headlines are included in the newscast’s battery of headlines. The structure of the newscast consists of a 3-minute-long battery of headlines -usually 9 general information news plus one sports news story- followed by the rundown of the day’s news. The newscast is hosted by Sandra Golpe and María Rey, but Rocío Martínez also appears at the beginning to present the sports news headline. In terms of sections, the international and politics sections occupy more time within the space. In fact, both sections occupy half of the newscast.

Regarding regional information, Andalusia is also the autonomous community with the largest presence in the lunchtime newscasts of Antena 3 Noticias. A total of 8 news items are presented about this community. Half of these pieces are political and the rest are divided between society and accident and crime reports. All the days included in the analysis contain at least one piece about Andalusia, although on 10 February there is not a single political piece. Of these news, only two are included in the battery of headlines. As in the case of Telecinco, Catalonia is the second most-represented community, with 7 news pieces. Of these stories, 6 are about regional politics. In addition, the protagonists of these news pieces are always agents who are or were part of the government, such as the first anniversary of Carles Puigdemont in government or the trial for the celebration of 9N. These news pieces usually transmit a negative image about regional politics. A standing out story in this regard is one about typos contained on the letter that the Catalan President sent to Mariano Rajoy to explain his absence from the Summit of the Presidents of the Autonomous Communities. Of these news stories, two are included in the battery of headlines.

Galicia appears in two news pieces, both economic, and the Basque Country in one news story about commerce. As in the case of Telecinco, this newscast neither includes any news on regional politics, not even one, as with the case of Catalonia, to talk about the absence of the Basque Country at the Summit of the Presidents of the Autonomous Communities. Other communities represented in Antena 3 Noticias are Madrid, with five new, as well as Murcia, Valencia, Navarre, Extremadura, Asturias, Castile and León, the Canary Islands, Balearic Islands and Aragon.


3.2.3. Telediario 1

The first edition of TVE’s Telediario has an audience of 2,029,000 viewers, which makes it the leading newscast in terms of audience in the lunchtime slot (Barlovento Comunicación, 2017). The newscast starts at 3 PM and lasts between 55 to 60 minutes, which makes it the longest of the three television newscasts examined here. Between 47 and 50 minutes are devoted to general information and the rest to sports. It is the only one of the three newscast that includes sports news. In terms of number of news items, there were between 30 to 2 news about general information and between 6 to 8 news about sports. Many of those pieces are also longer lasting than those presented by, for example, Informativos Telecinco, which gives the newscast a slower pace. TVE’s Telediario is also the only newscast that opens with a news story -others begin directly with what they consider to be the day’s news or image- and has only one female host for the general information, Pilar García Muñiz, who is joined by a second host, Sergio Sauca, to present the sports section. Like in Antena 3, this newscast privileges and dedicates more time to political and international information.

If we focus on the regional information, Catalonia is the autonomous community with the greatest presence in the newscasts of TVE. During the analysed period, Catalonia generated 14 news pieces, plus one news piece shared with Euskadi: about the absence of this community at the Summit of the Presidents of the Autonomous Communities. Every day the newscast dedicates at least one or two news stories to Catalonia. Although it is the Political section which offers the largest number of news items about Catalonia, this community also appears on several news about accidents and crime and about the effects of the storm, the cold weather and rain. Four of these news stories are featured in the battery of headlines. Contrary to what happens in other newscasts, Andalusia has a very small presence on public television newscasts. It only appears on three news stories: two related to a same event, the case of Marta del Castillo, and one about politics. None of them are featured in the opening headlines. Galicia appears in 3 news stories -accidents and crime and society- and in another one on traffic accidents, which is shared with Madrid. None of these news items are featured in the opening battery. The Basque Country appears in two news stories about it and in a third one shared with Catalonia. Two of them are related to regional politics, while the third piece is included in the Society section. Castile and León also appears in two news items, one about the low temperatures and one about the closure of Spain’s oldest oil well. The rest of the autonomous communities are Madrid, Valencia, Navarre, Murcia, Aragón. Of them all, with the exception of Murcia, appear in the battery of headlines.


4. Discussion and conclusions

After having presented and analysed the results, it is time to summarise and reflect on a series of fundamental ideas derived from the aforementioned findings.

First, the study has shown that mainstream radio stations offer fewer regional news pieces than television networks in their lunchtime newscasts and that there are important differences in the way these media treat this type of news. Moreover, there are large disparities regarding the specific weight given to the different autonomous communities, with Catalonia standing out in the case of radio, followed by Andalusia and Madrid; and Catalonia and Andalusia in the case of television, followed by Madrid. These autonomous communities traditionally concentrate the political and economic power of the country, and stand out for generating the largest number of news pieces related to the areas of parliament and courts as a result of recent events linked to political corruption, the Catalan independence process and financial scandals. The rest of the communities appear on but are not the protagonists of news events of interest in the most important news areas. They appear in news about the weather, the state of the roads, pistes and beaches, tourism growth and cultural events. When these communities become news most of the time is due to a tragic event, a violent assault, a traffic accident or similar events. On the contrary, Cantabria, La Rioja, Aragon and Castile and León have a minimal presence in the news. The behaviour of the radio and television networks in this regard is very similar.

Another difference between the regional news presented on radio and television is that in the first case it is the public broadcaster which offers the largest number of regional news, and is also the longest of the four analysed newscasts, while television has the shortest lasting newscast, and Telecinco is the channel with the largest number of regional news.

Furthermore, the in-depth treatment, approach, resources, sources, duration and roles involved in the presentation of regional news in the structure of the news programmes is similar in radio and television, although sources and resources are more diverse in televisions newscasts.

The image disseminated by these national media about the autonomous communities is uneven and responds to their respective ideological lines, but follows a common pattern that is made clear in the presentation of particular contents and the journalistic approach. Thus, Catalonia is permanently treated with abundant epithets by reporters and news anchors, who used a critical tone in which the nationalist and pro-independence variable always emerged, even if it is a traffic accident, which gives a negative image of the territory, and more specifically of this Community’s government. The same applies to Madrid in news about its municipal government. Both regions, Catalonia and Madrid, appear on a daily basis in radio and television news. The representation of other autonomous communities on the news is related, mainly, to accidents and crime stories, particularly traffic accidents and cases of gender violence-, society -meteorological issues- and scandals of political corruption at the regional level, like the involvement of the President of Murcia in the ‘Auditorium case’. Thus, their inclusion in radio and television news was not continuous, but sporadic, since they cease to appear in the newscasts as soon as the news “dies”.

Therefore, the autonomous communities with greater economic and social weight, Catalonia and Madrid, generate more political news, followed by Andalusia, while the rest only appears in news about accidents and crime and society.

* This research work is part of the R&D Project on the Challenges of Society, of the Ministry of Economy and Competitiveness, directed by Ana Azurmendi: “Transformation of regional television: weakening of the public service and prospects for technological development in a context of crisis” (CSO2013-42270-R)


5. Notes

[1] According to EGM’s third 2016 report, mainstream television in Spain has a weekly audience of 38,627,000 viewers between La 1 and Antena 3 TV, to which we should add the viewers of Telecinco, which are not included in this report. The rate of penetration of the medium was 87.8% in 2016. During the same period, the audience of the mainstream radio networks included in the study had an audience (from Monday to Friday) of 10,427,000 listeners. The social penetration rate of radio in 2016 was 60%.

 [2] This research work is part of research project titled “Transformation of regional television: weakening of the public service and prospects for technological development in a context of crisis. Impact of the Internet on the redefinition of the public service of Spanish regional television channels” (MINECO, 2013-2017-CSO2013-42270-R). This project has been directed by Ana Azurmendi Adárraga and has been supported by the study “New forms of consumption, creation and production of news and other audiovisual contents”, which has been carried out by the Leisure and Entertainment Observatory (OCENDI07/1618).

[3] It is important to bear in mind that these schedules are open since in the case of national television channels, their main newscasts start at 3 PM but do not always last an hour. Their duration ranges between 40 and 60 minutes from Monday to Friday.

[4] The analysis will not consider the news presented in the regional disconnections for obvious reasons.

[5] The analysis will not consider the opinion-based programmes nor sports news programmes that are presented independently from the newscast, both in radio and television, which occurs in most cases.

[6] Except in the case of COPE, which offered more regional news pieces on 17 January, particularly about the death of a girl in Blanes (Catalonia) with a duration of more than 3 minutes, excluding the initial comment by the host (which distorts the average of the total count of regional news for this network).

[7] According to Soengas (2003), a leading radio newscast would have the following structure: a brief comment from the editor, a battery of headlines presented by two voices, ordered in the sections of politics, society, education, health, economy, culture, sports and service information, weather and traffic, and a good-bye comment by the editor.

[8] The average number of news and headlines is 10 and 12, respectively, so there are news reports that do not correspond with headlines. This occurs, in greater or lesser extent, with all the newscasts of all the analysed networks.

[9] In the case of reporters, the interpretive tone is less outstanding since it is part of their work in the exposition of a news report.

[10]Junts Pel Si is the political coalition that governs Catalonia with the support of Democratic Convergence of Catalonia and Republican Esquerra (President Carles Puigdemont, 2015).

[11] Iñigo Urkullu Rentería is the Lehendakari (President) of the Basque Government since 2012.

[12] The order of the headlines does not always respond to the presentation order of the news and newscasts often inform of events that are not included in the initial battery.

[13] This is the typical structure, but sometimes the pattern is ignored, for example, in the case of the newscast of 17 January 2017.

[14] Andalusia also appears in relation to political events related to the internal war of the PSOE to find a leader in the face of the coming federal congress in 2017.

[15] Newscast broadcast on 17 January 2017 in the Politics section (1,5:11”).

[16] The “Other” option comprises autonomous communities other than Catalonia, Basque country, Galicia, Andalusia and Galicia, and in the case of RNE is the most common option with 21 news items. However, when considered alone, Catalonia is the autonomous community that stands out in terms of news presence across the sample of newscasts.

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How to cite this article in bibliographies / References

N López Vidales, L Gómez Rubio, D Vicente Torrico  (2017): “Regional news in Spain’s national radio and television and their contribution to the image of Spain’s autonomous communities”. Revista Latina de Comunicación Social, 72, pp. 649 to 666.
DOI: 10.4185/RLCS-2017-1184

Article received on 17 on March 2017. Accepted on 18 June
.Published on 20 June 2017