10.4185/RLCS-2017-1224en | ISSN 1138 - 5820 | RLCS, 72-2017 | |
Infringement on the General Law of Audiovisual Communication. The case of MYHYV
Leyre Ruiz Acín [CV] [ORCID] [GS] firstname.lastname@example.org Graduated in Journalism from Universidad de Zaragoza.
Traslate by Nelly Kervarec and Leyre Ruiz Acín
Dating shows are television programmes which have increased in Spain especially since 2000, they emerged as a television subgenre of reality shows. In this investigation we will focus on analysing the October, November and December 2016 broadcast of Mujeres y hombres y viceversa, known by its acronym myhyv, a dating show broadcasted by Telecinco since 2008. The objective of this paper is determinate if this TV show complies with the 7/2010 General Law of Audiovisual Communication and also with the Code of Self-regulation for television Content and Childhood by including violent and discriminnatory expressions which daily reach an average of 900.000 youngs spectators, main audience for this programme. Furthermore, messages which this kind of programmes disseminates are not inocuous for the audience.
1.1. Theorical framework
Dating shows can be classified as belonging to genre of the reality show defined by Murray and Ouellete (2009: 3) “as a brazenly commercial genre united not so much by convincing aesthetic rules as by a fusion of popular entertainment and the conscious vindication of the discourse of reality”. For Perales (2011: 121) these sorts of reality show are shown commonly “as spectacles of the living together of non-professional actors who react in a spontaneous way while trying to overcome and outlive their opponents via a permanent competition, and while exposed to the gaze of cameras which are strategically placed”.
They were first broadcast as a novelty on the channel Telecinco the same year The Dating Game ended, this was the first programme of this genre in the United States. The American channel ABC kept the programme on air for 40 years, with different stages and with different versions from 20 December 1965, as is stated in the American television archive. The essence of dating programmes is based on forming heterosexual couples with a clear objective “the aim of the people who conquer their ideal woman or man is to get a date with them and, in the long term, become their partner outside the programme” (Rodrigo, 2016: 28).
These television programmes form part of a conglomerate based on the reality show, which can be defined as “television programmes whose protagonists are generally anonymous people who act out real and spontaneous situations, generally influenced by, or guided by, the programme via the audiovisual conventions of a documentary and a narrative form which belongs to serialised fiction and which bases its strategy on the effect of the real” (Oliva, 2013: 14).
In the case we are referring to, dating shows “exhibit a series of characters (non-actors) in romantic dating situations in which the camera acts as a real-time observer, and so the spectators become voyeurs who observe the edited meetings as though they were watching real life via a live stream” (Ferris y Smith, 2007: 490).
The working of dating programmes can be very varied; some formats are based only on the meetings between the participants, others involve the living together of the participants in a closed space and there are those which incorporate elements of quiz programmes or confidence programmes, although for Ramírez y Gordillo (2013: 356), “the participants in this sort of reality TV programs look for an amorous or a marriage relationship with a candidate who is looking for a partner “. One must bear in mind that “hybridisation, syncretism and contamination between genres are the most important tendencies in television of the 21st century” (Gordillo, 2009: 34), so dating programs are going to evolve and incorporate elements of other genres and formats. For Cáceres, (2007:12) “it is a question of a reality with a script, of a reality artificially recreated, though it has a great power of credibility. So for that reason, it makes no sense to talk about genres in the classical meaning of the term”.
This type of TV show fits into a documentary-dramatic hyper-genre “which emerges with neo-television” (Gordillo, 2009: 40) and whose main objective is entertainment. The keys to the success of these television programmes (Maestre 2005), are based on three fundamental aspects: confinement + conflict + interaction. In the case of dating shows the confinement element is not present in the majority of programmes, although it is in some of them, when the participants must live together in a limited space.
In Spain the maximum exponent of dating shows is MYHYV, not only because of the time it has been on air (almost 9 years), but because of the audience figures it has achieved season after season, although from a few months ago a clearly descending tendency has begun. This programme has had more than 2400 broadcast hours and has a screen share of 14.5%. Presented by Emma Garcia from the beginning, the main stars are the Throne-Sitters in this dating show. This is what the two single men and women sitting in a chair in the shape of a throne are called. The participants are counselled by “love assessors”,two individuals -generally public figures- who sit next to them to give their opinions about their actions and to comment on what is happening in the programme, and at the same time the audience interacts with them. Once the Throne-Sitter has made progress with their admirers the final part is held, then they either choose an admirer should become their partner or decide to abandon the programme without a partner. From the start of the broadcast, the programme has been surrounded by polemics and controversy. Different consumer organisations have repeatedly complained about the content which is broadcast, accusing it of being sexist, discriminatory or inadequate for the time of its broadcast.
Bearing in mind the media work “as means of representation and construction of reality” (Belmonte & Guillamón, 2008: 116), it is crucial that the content which reaches the public should respect the present audiovisual legislation and that the programmes not doing this should be sanctioned, in particular those with contents which encourage violence, inequality, sexism and a degrading treatment of women.
Mediaset, the company which owns the rights to the program in Spain, has been fined for broadcasting repeats of Mujeres y hombres y viceversa (together with another of its series) before the watershed time. However this sanction, together with another fine in the year 2015 for inserting publicity in the middle of a television programme (El Mundo, 2015), have been the only sanctions which have been successfully levied against the programme, despite the fact that more official complaints exist. It is worth highlighting the fact that these fines which have been imposed on the programme have to do with the time of the broadcast and the insertion of irregular publicity, but they have never been sanctioned for its content. As Galarza Fernández, Cobo Bedía y Esquembre Cerdá (2016: 818 a 832) remind us “we must demand that the rules are obeyed, so that the media respects their function of public service and they fulfil the functions which have been entrusted to them “.
Furthermore, the messages this type of television programmes divulge are not innocent for spectators, and the vast literature available about the theories of audience reception corroborates this. Even though it is true that the theory of Klapper about the limited effects of the media assures us that “mass communication is not the necessary and sufficient cause of the effects which are produced on the audience”, given that it constitutes “just one influence which acts together with other influences” (on Rodríguez, 2011), it is also true that the media does tend to “reinforce previous opinions” (ibidem). Cultural products “continue being carriers of discourses which reproduce inequality in the representation of the feminine and the masculine” (Belmonte y Guillamón, 2008:118), so the influence of the broadcast contents is not negligible on audiences, mostly made up of teenagers and young people. For this reason we can understand the worry in academic and educational circles about the affects of dating shows on the processes of construction of gender identity, interiorisation of gender stereotypes and the relationships within couples. For Ubaldo Cuesta (2012) dating shows “encourage gender relationships and at the same time cause strong constructions about gender identity from very stereotypical mechanisms”, and as Murray y Ouellette (2004: 266) reflect, “the structures of many dating shows seem to reward women for acting out the roles of a woman as an object and as a show as well as the old duality of Madonna or whore”.
This dichotomy is highlighted in the research of Elena Rodríguez and Ignacio Megías, (2015: 206) in which they emphasise the fact that young people continue reproducing stereotypes which are characteristic of a sexist and patriarchal society. For this age range responsibility continues to be feminine and infidelity continues to be masculine.
The image given of sentimental relationships in this sort of programmes is generally linked to the idea of romantic love, passionate love in which according to Josetxu Rivere (on Ferrer & Bosch, 2013: 114), “dependency is valued but not in a bilateral way, given that, by educating men and women in an unequal way regarding the importance and expression of our sentiments, dependent and unequal relationships are generated, which can even end in violence”.
For Alejandra Walzer (2009), reality shows make up “a significant part of that which has been called junk television”. This name is used in reference to the term “junk food“, due to its lack of quality. Though it may be complex to define what is quality in television products , for Victoria Tur (2005: 178) one of the indicators is ethics: “They should be respectful of the fundamental rights of all human beings, they should be true and not discriminate for reasons of race, gender or social class”.
2. Methodology applied to the study of Mujeres y Hombres y Viceversa
Since the objective of this investigation is to find out if the contents boradcast by Mujeres y hombres y viceversa comply with the current television legislation, we have carried out an analysis of 45 episodes of the dating show, from 13 October 2016 to 19 December 2016, which means over 52 hours of content.
The study period has not been chosen at random, but it starts from a controversial sexist indicent infringed by J. Á. P. (“Suso”) whith one of his pretenders and it concludes when he decided to leave the dating show.
In order to substantiate our analysis, in which we have collected 141 expressions pronounced in the dating show, we have resorted to the 7/2010 General Low of Audiovisual Communication, to the Code of Self-regulation for television Content and Childhood of 9 december 2004 and also to the Spanish Constitution. It is therefore, a paper based on both qualitative and quantitative investigations.
In addition, to make a definition of the programme, the gender television classification drawn up by Inmaculada Gordillo (2009) and other papers whith are thematically related to this one as Estudio de la construcción de las identidades de género a través del programa televisivo: Mujeres y hombres y viceversa (2012), by Ubaldo Cuesta, have been particularly useful to us.2.2.
Origin and evolution of the format
Mujeres y hombres y viceversa is the Spanish version of the italian TV show Uomini e donne, which starts its broadcasting on Canale 5 on 16 September 1996. The programme, owned by Mediaset, began as an adult versión of Amici, which adressed the concerns of youth through interviews. In its early stages, Uomini e donne could be classify under talk shows genre, since it was attended by couples who wanted to share their experiences with viewers.
In 1998 came on air Speciale uomini e donne, named as such because celebrities took part in it. Nevertheless, in 2000, the number of viewers of the talks show begins to decrease as it coincided with Al posto tuo broadcast, a programme of the italian public television Rai 2. This was when television programme management decided to change the format of Uomini e donne radically until it became the dating show we currently know.
Mujeres y hombres y viceversa began its Spanish broadcasting on 9 June 2008 on Magnolia TV at 16:15 . The Telecinco dating show, broadcast from Monday to Friday, takes place on a single stage: a set headed by two thrones on whose sides are seated the pretenders of each of the thronists and also the public on several tiers , as well as the accomplices, and usually the presenter, Emma Garcia, too. On 27 July 2009, the dating show started broadcasting at 12:45 pm, after El programa de Ana Rosa and still continues at this time slot today. During these 9 years, Mujeres y hombres y viceversa has been broadcast uninterruptedly, except on holidays or serious events requesting changes the television programming.
The mechanic of the programme is simple. The young people who occupy the throne are called Thronistas and they attend to the programme in search of love. Pretenders are presented as possible partners of the thronists. Through dates and meetings who last on average of 20 minutes, contestants get to know each other until the tronist makes his final choice: going out with any of his pretenders or leave the television show alone.
Dating show rules are also very clear. Both “tronists” and pretenders must be singles while they are participating, they can not meet each other or keep in touch outside the programme (even by phone or text messages) and they can not enage sexual activity or romantic relationships with people from outside the programme.
However, there are many other elements involved in the show in order to make it more atractive:
Women and men thrones are broadcast alternatively. Except for a few cases, two consecutive days are dedicated to men’s throne and the following two to women’s throne. However, there has been various forms of thrones thoughtout the TV show history. In 2012 was released the format “Mature hearts”, where pretenders and thronist were between 50 and 60 years old, and older than the average of the rest of the participants, who are around 25 years old. In 2015 , the “Summer throne”came up, a modality which was repeated in the summer of 2016. It is a more relaxed version of the dating show where well known faces of the TV show participate and where everyone could get a date with everyone, no matter which side they are on.
In addition to the possibility of watching the dating show live, on the website Mitele.es the last 500 episodes of the dating show are available online. Also, Telecinco website has a section dedicated to de TV show where you can find videos, clips of recent episodes, information about thronist and unique contents such as interviews with couples emerged from the dating show or exclusive statements made by contestants.
in September 2015 the TV show changes its production Company. Angelo Rocca and Alfredo Ereño, who were at the head of Magnolia TV, create Bulldog Producciones, a company which is given by Mediaset , the task of producing Mujeres y hombres y viceversa and Supervivientes, two of the most successful reality shows of the channel.
Thronists, pretenders and acomplices are paid for their participation in the dating show. Although there are not official figures, according to La Guía TV (2016) a thronist would receive from 800 to 1.200 euros per episode, the pretenders around 700 and the accomplices 150. The salary also depends on the figure’s career and its previous media impact.
The audience of the TV show is mainly composed o young people between 13 and 24 years old, an age group for which has been at the top of the audience with the 33% of spectators in 2015 (Zamora, 2015). This is because, according to Perales (2011: 124) “the majority of the participants are teenagers or in their twenties”, an audience motivated, as Varela (2002) notes, by social, psychological and cultural influences that “use media with the objective to obtain particular rewards”. Here is where the uses and gratifications theory already supported by authors such as Katz and Blumler in the seventies (Katz y Blumler, 1974) would come into play
Own preparation based on data from Vanitatis.
In the table below it can be seen the average number of spectators Mujeres y hombres y vivecersa has attracted in each season.
The most watched season was the first one, which reached an average of 1.412.000 spectators and 14’9% of share, according to the data provided by the audience consultant Dos30’ to Vanitatis magazine (Molina, 2017). The most watched final of Mujeres y hombres y viceversa also took place in the first season. On 26 November 2008, the ex football player Efrén Reyero decided to leave the dating show with Soraya Seguro and more than 3.243.000 spectadors (27% de share) witnessed the choice as a possible couple. It was followed by the final with Víctor Enguídanos on 5 September 2008, with approximately 1.784.000 spectators (14’5% of share), the second most watched of the TV show (Vanitatis, 2017).
The second season (2009-2010), already broadcast in the morning slot, obtained an audience average of 995.000 spectators and 17’7% of share. Germán Ramírez and Tamara Gorro’s final choice marked also an important milestone in the dating show history. The first one took place on 7 January 2009 and accumulated a percentage 12’9% of share, which means around 1.579.000 spectators; on the second one, Tamara Gorro announced her decisión of going out with Rafa Mora in front of 1.662.000 spectators (19’2% of share) on 25 March 2009.
The number of spectators was gradually decreasing reaching only 867.000 (13’3% of share) on season five (2012-2013). Nevertheless, the dating show bounced back in the following two seasons and the number of spectators increased to reach 977.000 (14’5% of share) on season seven (2014-2015). The following year its audience dropped to 888.000 spectators (14’1% of share) and on season 2016-2017 it experienced its worst audience with 740.000 spectators and a share percentage of 11’8%.
Own preparation based on data from Vanitatis.
The graphic above shows the evolution of the audience of Mujeres y hombres y viceversa during the last months of 2016 and the first few months of 2017.
When Suso’s throne begins, name given to the contestant Jesús Álvarez Perera and from whom originates this case study, on 7 September 2016, the TV show had a share percentage of 13’2%. However, as the months go on, this figure begins to decrease until December, when the TV show broke its worst record (11’1% of share). The following two months, nevertheless, the audience rating recovered.
It seems strange, to say the least, that the worst audience ratings of the dating show correspond exactly with those months when Suso was thronist, a period which ended on 19 December. The episodes analysedin this investigation also correspond with the months when the audience of the dating show decreased.
We should also take into account the online audience, which rose to nearly 3’1 million visitors a month, from September 2016 until February 2017. This made it the second most watched entertainment programme on the internet, to fall only behind Big Brother.
Moreover, on 31 July 2017, the dating show had 1.363.131 followers on Facebook, 633.799 on Twitter and 100.120 on Instagram.
3. Analysis of data and results >
Jesús Álvarez Perera, known on television programmes as Suso (Barcelona, 1993), started as a thronist of Mujeres y hombres y viceversa on 7 September 2016 and he was kept on his throne until he left on 19 September 2016. He became famous after passing polemically through several television programmes as Big Brother or Supervivientes and, since then, he is a regular talk-show guest on Telecinco’s sets.
In the TV show conducted by Mercedes Milá, Suso was questioned a lot on the relationships he had at Guadalix’s house, first with Sofía Suescun and later with Raquel Martín. After meeting several times with Sofía, Suso decided to break up with her, claiming he was not interested in her anymore because “she was used”. However, that was by no means the only controversy inflicted by the young man. In Supervivientes, Yola Berrocal was the target of his comments: “I’m honest, I wouldn’t start snivelling to be saved if I were 50, near menopause” (Blasting News, 2016).
But the period he spent in the dating show was also controversial; the Big Brother contestant continued making sexist comments and his “throne” was not without threats and violent attitudes. The point of departure of our analysis takes place on 11 October 2016, when Suso was over a month on the throne of Mujeres y hombres y viceversa.
Emma García starts the TV show and undertake an overview of the dates that the pretenders had with Suso on previous days:
-Emma: “How were your dates, girls? Without spoiling anything, how about yours, Jenny?
-Jenny: “Mine was quite well”.
When Camila was asked about the date she had with her thronist, she answered shaking her head, smiling and covering her mouth. A few seconds later, Suso was focused on by the cameras and he showed dissapointment and discomfort. “Suso’s face is not of happiness” says Emma, who ensures that they will reveal later what happened between Suso and Camila. After that, the attention focused over to the other thronist, Ana, who is going to witness a challenge where their pretenders participate.
It is not until minute 44 when the programme focuses again on Suso and Camila:
-Emma: “Something happened on the date, right?, with one of the pretenders. It was the first date with that girl, true? With Camila, was it the first time that something like this happened to you?
-Camila: “More or less. He misunderstood me, that’s a ll”.
Following this, so that the spectator is understanding the situation, they show the date between Suso and Camila, when the conflict started. The meeting is divided in two parts: one with the cameras and the other without witness, as per the thronist's request. The first part went well without incident. They both chatted and exchanged opinions about the rest of the competitors. Then comes the bit without the cameras of which they talked about after the date: we talked during the hour off camera, we were arguing says the thronist. To this Camila answers: yes because he doesn't stop asking and asking and here not everything is for him.
Up to that point the spectator can already guess the origin of the conflict between the two youngsters: each of them went to the date off camera with different intention: Never in my life, I have slept with someone I have just met, nothing like this and he is not going to be the first, you know? says Camila.
At this moment, Suso gets up from the bench where they were filming and leaves Camila alone in front of the cameras. I m not at ease, I am going says the Catalan, who assures that never before he has been in such a situation: it is the first time it happens to me, it has never happened before, never. Seriously, I swear, seriously, it has been pff, super unpleasant.
On stage, Suso carry on giving details on what happened: I was given some signals and then I was given some more . However, it will be a further comment which will start the polemics: may be I got it mixed up with her message and I am going to say it again. But I am a person and if you get me to understand one thing I rush in, ok, later don't tell me: "up to here, not yet, I am going" because honnestly Emma, I don't get it.
Suso admitted with this that he could not control his sexual pulsions and accept the rejection from a woman in accepting relations and erotic games. Instead of trying to understand it, the reaction of the thronist was to be annoyed and to try to shift the guilt onto the girl. "Camila, I have never told you anything, it has been you, I shut up when you were talking, did I say anything to you? Did I ? I have been silent.
Finally, the competitor asks Camila to forgive him for making her uncomfortable. He already made his decision: we both have our character, I think we would not get along as couple.
The love advisors did not react much after Suso's declaration. Only Emma Garcia tried to understand and imagine herself in Camila's situation.
But the period he spent in the dating show was also controversial; the Big Brother contestant continued making sexist comments and his “throne” was not without threats and violent attitudes. The point of departure of our analysis takes place on 11 October 2016, when Suso was over a month on the throne of Mujeres y hombres y viceversa.
-Emma: “How were your dates, girls? Without spoiling anything, how about yours, Jenny?
-Jenny: “Mine was quite well”.
When Camila was asked about the date she had with her tronist, he answered shaking her head, smiling and covering her mouth. Few seconds later, Suso was focused by the cameras and his showed dissapointment and discomfort. “Suso’s face is not of happiness” says Emma, who ensures that they will reveal later what happened between Suso and Camila. After that, the attention focused over the other tronist, Ana, who is going to witness a challenge where their pretenders participate.
It is not until minute 44 when the programme focuses again on Suso and Camila:
-Emma: “Something happened on a date, right?, with one of the pretenders. It was the first date with that girl, true? With Camila, was it the first time that something like this happened to you?
Emma : well, any of them have the right to say at some point : may be I was going quick but now I want to slow down
After that, in order to help the spectator to understand what happened, the date which Suso and Camila had and where the conflict had been triggered was broadcast. The date was divided in two parts; one of them was with cameras and the other one was without witnesses at the request of the Throne-Sitter. The first part was conducted without incidents. They both conversed and they exchanged their views in relation to the rest of the pretenders. After this it is the turn of the part without cameras, which Suso and Camilla talked about: “We had an argument during the hour without witnesses, we’re upset”, said the Throne-Sitter. And Camila said: “Yes, because he asked over and over and here is not everything for him”. “Maybe he thought I’m a sassy girl and he said: she’ll be like many others. But I’m not. He was wrong”, said Camila about her Throne-Sitter’s intentions. For his part, Suso said that “there have been sexual advances and then a stop in their tracks”.
At this point, the spectator can already glimpse the origin of the conflict between both of these young people: each went with different intentions to the meeting without cameras. “I’ve never got laid with someone I’ve just met in my life, never. And he’s not gonna be the first one, you know?” said Camila. This is when Suso got up from the bench where there were being filmed and he left, leaving Camila alone on camera: “I’m uncomfortable, I’m leaving”, said Suso, who claimed that he had never been in a situation like this before: “Is the first time it’s happened to me. This has never happened to me, never. I mean, I swear, it has been... really nasty man”.
On the set, Suso kept giving details about what happened: “I was given some signals and later I was given others”. However, it would be a later comment which set off the controversy: “I repeat, maybe I got confused with her messages. But I’m that kind of person who… If I’m given to understand one thing and I… I turn myself on, okey? Then you don’t tell me: ‘that’s all, not now, I’m leaving’, because I’m not thinking straight, Emma”.
Suso recognised he did not know how to control his sexual instinct nor accept a woman’s denial of having sex or playing erotic games. Instead of understanding that, Suso’s reaction was to get angry and try to lay the blame on his pretender: “I haven’t reproached you anything at any time, Camila, but you have. I’ve been quiet during your speech. Have I reproached you anything? Did I said something to you? I’ve been quiet”.
Although the contestant asked for forgiveness to Camila in case she had felt uncomfortable, Suso was set on his decision: “We both have a lot of character, I think we wouldn’t understand each other as a couple”.
Love advisors barely intervened in the situation after Suso’s statements. Emma, the presenter, was the only one who tried to put herself in Camila’s shoes:
-Nagore: “But that’s not true Camila, it’s not true you didn’t want to go so quickly. My own feeling is that you were going as quickly as him, but you decided to put on the brakes. Then he gets upset and there’s a misunderstanding, an awkward situation, and you decided to end the date. At this point (…) both of you wanted to meet each other in the same way”.
-Emma: “Well, but they both have the right to say: “maybe I was going too fast but now I want to stop”.
A. D. F. intervened along the same line as Nagore, on Suso’s side. He understand his anger and accuses Camila of a lack of clarity since the beginning:
A. D. F.: “Both of you are free to start and stop, whenever, however and whatever you want. The question is that, when you come to terms and suddenly, I don’t know why and I don’t care, one of you breaks the deal, it is understandable that the other person gets angry…”
-Nagore: “on the same level, it is understandable that she wanted to stop at any time”.
- A. D. F.: The problem is when you create confusion in the other person's head, this is the problem.
With a similar opinion as Nagore, A. D. F., takes Suso's side and understand why he is furious and he reproaches to Camila that she was not clear enough from the start.
It is then that Emma intervenes to defend Camila:
Emma: no, no,no, no we can understand the fury of a person who misunderstood one thing and wanted to go quicker and we can also understand perfectly the other one who, in this case is Camila, got on with the flow and later decided that it wasn't going to be. What is the issue ?
However Camila showed signs of collapsing following the comments from his thronist and the love advisors. she apologised and even admit a culpability which is not even hers.
Finally, Camila is expelled from the dating show by her “Throne-Sitter” as a consequence of this episode.
Social media was rich in complaints about Suso’s attitude, which was described as “sexist”, alleging that his statements justify “the culture of rape”. That day Twitter was flooded with messages with hashtag #Susoviolador (#“rapistSuso”) and many media echoed the scandal with headlines such as: “A contestant of myhyv foments sexual harassment on the TV show” (La Vanguardia, 2016), “myhyv: That is how sexual harassment is made on TV” (El Mundo, 2016) o “Sexual harassment apology in myhyv: If I am given to understand something I turn myself on, then do not say no to me because I am not thinking straight” (Público, 2016).
After the broadcast, the TV show just published a message on its Twitter account saying “Suso has the right to get angry, but Camila has the right to start or stop when she feels like it”.
After these alarming statements of the Throne-Sitter on a TV show which is broadcast before the watershed time, we decided to analyse the rest of his throne (as well as the rest of the Throne-Sitters, accomplices, advisors and pretenders) to check if it that was an isolated sexist attitude or if this kind of behaviour is usual in the TV show broadcast.
3.2 Laws and ethical codes with whom MYHYV has been collated
Just like all the programmes and television shows aired in Spain, Mujeres y hombres y viceversa must obey the 7/2010 of 31th March General Law of Audio-visual Communication implemented by the José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero socialist government.
This consolidated text was born with two fundamental purposes; on one side, “to give legal safety to the industry and enable the creation of audio-visual business groups able to compete in the European market”, and on the other side “to promote a more inclusive and equal society, specifically regarding preventing and eliminating gender discrimination” (General Law of Audio-visual Communication, 2010, page 2). The most relevant lines of this law in terms of equality and preventing discrimination are found in the Title II, Chapter I, Article 4.
Specifically, section 4.2 assures that “audio-visual communication may never encourage hate or discrimination based on gender or any personal or social circumstance, and must be respectful with human dignity and constitutional values, paying particular attention to eradicate behaviours that promote situations of inequality towards women”.
This regulation also takes into consideration the influence that screens play on the youngest and, thus, sets a section specially dedicated to the rights of children. This is Section 7, that emphasizes the prohibition of “the emission of audio-visual contents (…) that include pornography, abuse, gender-based violence or gratuitous violence”. Similarly, the law establishes the children protection time slot from 6 in the morning to 10 in the evening. Inside that time slot, there are another three classed as reinforced protection; between 8 and nine and 17 and 20 hours on a working day and between 9 and 12 during weekends. However, this protection system is not applicable to the Internet area and television online contents, given the fact that everybody can have access to them anytime during the day.
Regarding commercial communication, during the children protection time slot, “providers of the audio-visual communication service will not be allowed to insert commercial communications that promote body cult and rejection to the self-image, such as surgical interventions and aesthetic treatments. (General Law of Audio-visual Communication, 2010: 13).
This law bases many of its premises on fundamental rights that are already included in the 1978 Spanish Constitution, especially those who are related with the right to honour, privacy, self-image, as well as the protection of the childhood and youth. These rights are used as the limit for freedom of speech and communication, however, there are contents that still violate these rights.
However, this is not the only document that regulates the television broadcasting, since there are numerous codes and treaties that can be addedto the state legislation. The Organic Law 1/2004, of the 28th December, of Measures for the Integral Protection against Gender Violence, dedicates its Chapter II to the field of publicity and medias. It says that both activities “will encourage the protection and safeguard of equality between men and women, avoiding all discrimination among them” and that Public Administration must watch for the “strict compliance of the current legislation”.
Additionally, on the 9th December 2004 the Self-Regulation Code about Television Contents and Childhood was signed by the media groups Atresmedia, RTVE, Net TV, FORTA, Veo TV and Mediaset, group which screens Mujeres y hombres y viceversa.
Such document “establishes a series of general principles to improve the efficacy, inside the time slot between the six and twenty-two hours, of legal child protection regarding the television programming that it is screened during those hours (Code for Self-regulation about Television Contents and Childhood, 2004: 1).
The basic principles of this code also have their basis in the Spanish Constitution. The Self-Regulation Code emphasizes the importance of an adequate signage and age classification of the screened programmes, especially in the time slot between 6 and 22 hours. During this time span all the channels must “avoid encouraging children to imitate harmful behaviours” just as “promote parental control” (Code for Self-regulation about Television Contents and Childhood, 2004: 3). However, as set out by the Association of Media Users (2017:26) about programmes classification, “the competent body for its control and supervising is the National Commission of Markets and Competition (CNMC) that, in accordance to the article 9.3 of the Law for its creation, must control the fulfilment of the dictated obligations to fulfil the rights of children.
Likewise, it is reflecting the concern of the signatory televisions about the “special incidence of child audience during school holidays and they expressly state their intention of showing a particular sensitivity to that fact when elaborating the television programming”. (Code for Self-regulation about Television Contents and Childhood, 2004: 2).
3.3. Content of “MYHYV” that infringes the law
Mujeres y hombres y viceversa is a TV show not recommended for children under 12 years and, therefore, its broadcast is considered appropiated for the time slot where is placed (from 12:45 to 14:20 pm). However, since its premiere and until june 2009, it was broadcast at 16:15 in the evening, overlapping with the watershed time which starts at 17 pm. . On the other hand, eventhough it is broadcast in a time splot which is currently not within enhance protection sometimes its contents are played at different times during the day by other Telecinco TV shows, whith the risk that it poses for children. In addition, it should be taken into account that the dating show episodes are hosted on the web page of Mediaset, so that espectadors can watch the dating show whenever and wherever they want depending on their availability. That implies that children under 12 years can also access to the episodes of myhyv, because there is not a sound protection, beyond the posible parental controls that could be set on certains websites. And despite this, taking into account the amount of devices which children are exposed to, it would be imposible to check constantly which contents they get access to.
Furthermore, advertising and sponsored spaces which are placed in the dating show infringe the General Law of Audiovisual Communication, because they advertise beauty salons and cosmetic surgery procedures which can promote the cult of body on watershed time.
However, the most worrying for us is the content and the TV show discourse, as they violate the current television legislation –as well as other laws and regulations- which worry us in considering that they can encourage inequality between men and women, the perpetuation of sexist roles and the promotion of violence.
This analysis has also detected woman over-sexualization, meaning that “women turn their body and sexuaity into the centre of their vital existence” (Cobo, 2015: 14), and excessive criticism of women. Something common in dating shows, as Murray and Ouellette (2004: 265) indicate, “they spend a significant amount of time on scenes where the contestants critizise secretly their colleagues and, by doing so, they boosting spectators to criticize women's look too”.
Despite lower than sexist or offensive comments, it does not mean they have a lower impact on the audience, especially during earlier ages. As María José Díaz Aguado (2008:35) explains, “studies carried out on general violence reflect that the exposure to violent models, especially during childhood and adolescence, leads to justify violence, and both conditions significally increase the risk of copying it”.
3.3.1. Table that contains the sexist and violent comments made and the consequent law and ethical codes infringement
A table with 141 violent, sexist and denigrating expresions collected after the viewing of 45 episodes of Mujeres y hombres y viceversa is set below. Analysis starts from the incident that Suso lead with Camila and it ends when the “thronist” leaves the programme without any explanation, covering two and a half months of broadcasting.
In order to complete our analysis we wanted to add these two graphics indicating the number of comments of each type made, as well as the gender of those who pronounced them.
The majority of the expressions collected correspond to sexist comments, with a total of 97, while other offensive and violent comments were made in a lesser proportion; 33 and 11 comments of each type were detected respectively.
In the case of violent expressions, both genders are broadly balanced, as 6 were inflicted by men and 5 by women. The same happens with other offensive comments, as both men and women seem to made them equaly at the TV show; we collected 18 from men and 15 from women.
3.4. Impacts on civil society
It is not the first time that the contents broadcast by Mujeres y hombres y viceversa are questioned. In reports of the Monitoring Comitee of the Code of Self-regulation for television Content and Childhood for the years 2015 and 2016 are include complaints about this televisión programme, altough in any of the cases the agency considered undesirable it broadcast.
Furthermore, the spectators themselves have also decided to take action against the TV show. The popular web portal change.org records up to four entries calling for the withadrawal of Mujeres y hombres y viceversa. The most popular request was the one driven by the Audiovisual Media Consumer’s Association on 2015. A year before, the Users of Communication’s Association (auc) had already reported the television programme to the National Markets and Competition Commission (cnmc) as they have doubts that the TV show adjust to the Spanish television legislation and it met the criteria of the television programmes classification by ages. In fact, “the inadequated classification of audiovisual television content or its inadequated placement is, precisely, the main complaint made by users and its most representative associations”, says auc (2017: 26). Nevertheless, the complaint in question was dismissed, in such a way that neither the channel was punished nor the TV programme dropped out his usual line. Likewise, the Audiovisual Media Consumer’s Association (tac) lodged on 2015 a complain against the TV show for the same reasons.
Such as Inmaculada Gordillo and Narcisa Gómez (2011: 1) assure, “media help to spread the old/new pathriarc through the dissemination of situations which show sexist attitudes and behaviours integrated in the usual discourse flow”. That is the case of the expressions collected on this paper –pronounced by both men and women-, which constitute in its majority what psychiatrist Luis Bonino Méndez named the “micromachismos” on 1991. These “subtle and daily” behaviours are considered “control strategies and microviolence that infringe women’s personal autonomy” and which are use to be “legitimised by social environment”. (Gordillo and Gómez, 2011: 3).
The hazards of these abuses are that “they are the basis of certain forms of gender violence” (Gordillo and Gómez, 2011: 4) and they are use, conciously or inconciously, to perpetrate the male dominant hierarchy.
On the other hand, the concept of love and relationships that the contestants of the TV programme spread correspond with the vision of romantic and passionate love, conceptions strongly sustained “by a whole range of miths culturally shared and transmitted by different channels of socialization” (Ferrer and Bosch, 2013: 113). This view make compatible love and violence and “it would justify jealousy, the quest of posession and the abuser’s controlling behaviour” (Ferrer and Bosch, 2013:114), a dangerous concept of love especially when it is disseminate amoung young people, which is the majority audience.
We must take into account that, according to the National Statistics Institute (2016), in 2015 there were 637 children victims of gender violence with protection mesures in Spain, which means an increase of 10% in the number of cases compared with 2014. In 2015, the percentage of women between 16 and 19 years old which reported to have suffered control violence by their partners amounted to 25%, according to the Macro-survey of Violence against Woman (Ministry of Health, Social Services and Equality, 2015). Several of the autors named above like José Díaz Aguado o Ubaldo Cuesta are warning about the power of television as a builder of stereotypes and as disseminator of behaviours that audience may in the end justify, as in the case of gender violence.
4. Final conclusions
After analysing more than two months of Mujeres y hombres y viceversa dating show broadcast, the conclusions drawn are as follows:
1.- The programme violates several sections of the 7/2010 General Law of Audiovisual Communication. In particular, it violates Section 4.2 and 4.4 from Chapter I, Title of the General Law of Audiovisual Communication, which emphasise that audiovisual communication can not, under any circumstances inciting gender discrimination or infringing upon human dignity, at the same time it must encourage the eradication of the unequal status of women.
2.- The broadcast of violent and sexist expressions in this television programme is a matter to concern. We have detected and average of three sexist, violent or pedjorative expressions in each episode. Expressions hidden behind the television glamour. In this regard, we must highlight that both men and women made a similar number of violent and offensive comments but, in the case of sexist expressions, men were those who pronounced them the most (65 expressions collected compared whith those who women pronounced, 32). Women of the TV show were continuously judged and valued by their physical appearance, their clothing or their attitude. Some of them were even accused of being “slutties”. A lot of the expressions we have collected only reaffirm the patriarcal model established in society nowadays. In fact, our analysis stem from a case which was considered by many media as “apology of violation”.
3.- After reciving several complaints from consumers advocazy organizations over the past 9 years, as well as different requests for the withdrawal of the TV show and having inflicted several scandals on social media, the dating programme still being broadcast.
4.- In view of the expansión in the number of teenagers and young people as audience of this television programme, we consider that its classification (not recommended for children under 12 years old) is not appropiate, so it should be increased, since the youngest viewers are the most vulnerable sector to the media messages.
5.- The power of television as builder of gender stereotypes and diffuser of behaviours that the audience may justify, as in the case of violence and the dissemination of sexist stereotypes, is evident. Although there are no studies to certify the cause-effect relationship between this TV show broadcast and the increase of cases of gender violence among the young people, it is worthwhile refflecting on hazards of exposure to violent and sexist violents given the increase of cases of gender violence amoung young adults and teenagers.
6.- According to this law, this programme should respect the honour, the privacy and the image of its contestants. Three rigths set on in Spanish Constitution which are also repeatedly violated, as often “tronists” and pretenders are degraded and disqualified by the rest of the participants and also between them.
7.- It is also worrying the embodiment of the stereotypes disseminate over the 45 episodes analysed. Foremost among them is the image fo women as object of desire or the belief that controlling and protecting women is a duty of men Other stereotype is to consider that crying or suffering for love is intrinsic to falling in love, and finally, that jelaousy are something natural and even positives in romantic relationships.
8.- We therefore consider that the values transmitted by this TV show are specific to an inequal society which perpetuates male supperiority over women. Male perform the dominant role in the dating show, while women is dominated and over-sexualized. Those are models which coincide whith the ones reflected, for example, in the Perception of gender violence on adolescence and youth (2015) survey.
9.- We consider necessary the withdraw of this dating show due to the infringements of the basic people principles.
10.- It is indispensable to appeal to the social responsability of the media which promote the broadcast of this kind of television programmes with the purpose of remove from their programming grinds these shows which violates the basic principles of coexistence between men and women and which hamper the achievement of gender equality.
*Investigation conducted with support from the Communication and Digital Information Investigation Group (GICID)
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How to cite this article in bibliographies / References
L Ruiz Acín, E Bandrés Goldáraz (2017): “Infringement on the General Law of Audiovisual Communication. The case of MYHYV”. Revista Latina de Comunicación Social, 72, pp. 1.351 to 1.366
Article received on 31 August 2017. Accepted on 10 November.