radio

   Spain has, in proportion to its population, the largest radio audience in Europe, with more than half the adult population listening every day. Over 18 million people listen to the four major networks, the state Radio Nacional de España (RNE: see also national radio), and the private networks SER, COPE and Onda Cero. These three account for some 80 percent of the total radio audience.
   The intensity of competition among the networks, and the sheer number of different stations available, is a function of the liberalization of broadcasting which accompanied the transition to democracy. Between the end of the Civil War and 1977, when RNE lost its monopoly, state radio was the only source of news, which was subject, like other aspects of publishing and the media, to censorship. Bodies closely identified with the regime, such as the National Movement, the vertical syndicates, and the Roman Catholic church, were permitted to establish their own networks, but had to take their news from the state agency, Agencia EFE. Within these networks, local stations proliferated, until in the mid-1960s, some 450 were competing for space on medium wave. This figure was halved within the succeeding ten years, and by 1978, there were four mediumwave networks: RNE, Radio Cadena Española (RCE: the chain of stations belonging to the Movimiento and the sindicatos), COPE and SER. RCE merged with RNE in 1988. By then, the development of FM radio made it possible both to diversify the output of the major networks, and to increase local provision without overcrowding the medium band. The result has been a proliferation of FM stations, with some 600 new licences, at a conservative estimate, issued during the 1980s, giving Spain the largest number of radio outlets in Europe in relation to its population. In addition, several hundred unlicensed transmitters exist, many run by the municipal authorities in small towns. The government's willingness to acquiesce in this situation is illustrated by the fact that in 1988 Agencia EFE agreed to supply regular news bulletins from its own service to some of these illegal stations.
   Much of the programme content is characterized by informality and spontaneity, which contrasts markedly with the more staid style to which listeners were accustomed during the Franco regime. Though RNE is still an important national institution, it has been steadily losing listener share to the private networks since the early 1980s. Though radio as a whole played an important role in keeping the nation informed during crises such as the attempted coup of 1981 (see also Tejerazo, El), the fact that SER had already pioneered the provision of uncensored news in the early years of the transition may account for the fact that it is by far the most popular network. One of the most significant aspects of the diversification of radio broadcasting has been the increased output in languages other than Spanish. Radio has played a role alongside other media in consolidating a sense of confidence and identity in those autonomous communities with distinctive cultural traditions. Euskadi Irratia (Basque Radio) broadcasts in Basque throughout the whole Basque territory. RTVG (Galician Radio and Television), inaugurated in 1985, transmits exclusively in Galician. Though RNE created a Catalan station in 1976, coverage was limited. With the foundation in 1983 of the Corporació Catalana de Radio i Televisió (CCRTV: Catalan Radio and Television Corporation), radio provision in Catalan was considerably enhanced, and Catalunya Radio has the largest share of the global audience in Catalonia.
   Further reading
   - Bernández, A. (1991) "The Mass Media", in A. Ramon Gascon (ed.) Spain Today: In Search of Modernity, Madrid: Cátedra (pp. 431–54 offer an informative account of the changes which have occurred in the Spanish media).
   - Hooper, J. (1995) The New Spaniards, Harmondsworth: Penguin (chapter 22 considers radio as part of a general discussion of the broadcast media).
   EAMONN RODGERS

Encyclopedia of contemporary Spanish culture. 2013.

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