Catalan TV Show Flares Debate Over Independence from Spain

Catalonia's news program “30 minuts” [ca], which has aired weekly on the region's public television channel TV3 [ca] since 1984, recently broadcast an episode on the question of Catalonia's geopolitical status, called “Independence, step by step.” The episode comes at a complicated time, just a week before campaigning begins for the region's early round of elections (to be held on November 25, 2012), which are largely considered to be a plebiscite on Catalonia's independence from Spain.

The entire episode can be viewed on TV3's website [ca].

Catalonia's unionist opposition parties have seized the moment as an opportunity to criticize the content [ca] of Catalan public television, accusing President Artur Mas of using it to spread separatist propaganda to support his party's (CiU [ca]) chances of retaining parliamentary control.

Nevertheless, “Independence, step by step,” has enjoyed very high ratings as the most-watched episode of the past four seasons. Some 750,000 viewers (22.3% of Catalonia's television audience) watched the episode, according to a survey [ca] by Kantar Media.

The program quickly became a topic of hot online debate, as the hashtag #30minuts [ca] began trending on Twitter during the Sunday broadcast and continued to do so until Monday morning. The wide-ranging reactions to the program seem to match the complexity of the region's politics, reinforcing the analysis that the debate surrounding the question of Catalan nationhood is anything but simple.

Those who praised the episode commented on what they believed to be journalistic integrity, marked by a presentation of diverse and opposing expert opinions on the question of Catalonia's independence from Spain. Miquel Roca [ca], a Catalan nationalist politician and one of the fathers of the Spanish constitution, as well as Alberto Ruiz-Gallardón, Spain's minister of justice, were among the program's interviewees.

@saravaldesB Quan en un reportatge s'aporten testimonis equilibrats d'ambdues parts, és bon periodisme.Tot el demés populisme. #30minuts vs #elgrandebate

@saravaldesB When reporting brings together balanced, differing opinions, it's good journalism. The rest is just populism. #30minuts vs #elgrandebate (#thegreatdebate)

@JoanJosepPastor Molt aclaridor “La independència, pas a pas” de @30minuts explicant el procés i totes les perspectives  #30minuts

@JoanJosepPastor “Independence, step by step” is illuminating @30minuts explaining the process and varying perspectives  #30minuts

‏@nasticnastic Enhorabona pel #30minuts d'ahir. A veure si aprenen altres cadenes de tv.

‏@nasticnastic All the praise for yesterday's #30minuts. Hopefully other networks will follow their lead.

On the other hand, more skeptical netizens raised concern that while public television networks are busy reporting on the region's surging separatist politics, examples of corruption in Catalan politics — such as the Cafè amb llet [ca] case, in which two journalists were fined 10,000 euro after exposing shady dealings by healthcare moguls — have by-and-large been ignored.

‏@TeresaSoler @OriolCanosa: El que està passant amb @_cafeambllet i la sanitat catalana també donaria per un #30minuts , no?” O per un #60minuts #tela

@TeresaSoler @OriolCanosa: The current story between @_cafeambllet and the Catalan healthcare system could also make a #30minuts episode, no?” Or maybe even #60minuts (60minutes) #tela

@fletandelnorte ganes de veure un #30minuts en el que tot un pare de la constitució parli de la corrupoció CIU: Cas Millet, Cas ITV, Cas Crespo, Sanitat,

@fletandelnorte I'd love to see #30minuts episode in which even a father of the constitution talks about CiU corruption: the Millet, ITV, Crespo cases, or healthcare…

@pauaragay Celebro que Miquel Roca, tant des de la seva columna a LV com des d'espais televisius com el darrer #30minuts, estigui parlant tan clar.

@pauaragay Ecstatic that Miquel Roca, from his column in LV to television like yesterday's #30minuts, is talking straight and clear.

There was also significant negative commentary, criticizing what was supposedly biased and demagogical reporting.

@Gonzografia Hace gracia la valoración de hoy del #30minuts,hablan de la voluntad de un pueblo,como si TODO el pueblo Catalan deseara la independencia.

@Gonzografia The valoration by yesterday's #30minuts is laughable, speaking about the will of a people, as if ALL the Catalan people want independence.

@CristianFerrerG He vist el #30minuts d'ahir: Sesgat, demagog i parcial. Hi havia per fer un bon reportatge i només han fet propaganda política per a @CiU

@CristianFerrerG Disappointed in yesterday's #30minuts: skewed, demagogical and partisan. They should have done good reporting but instead they just spewed propaganda for @CiU

@ullerol Acabo de vore el #30minuts d'ahir sobre la independència de Catalunya i el trobe totalment parcial i sense contrastar coses molt bàsiques.

@ullerol I just saw yesterday's #30minuts about Catalonia's independence and I found it to be totally partisan, refusing to analyze very basic concepts.

The program was also widely reviewed by bloggers. On Planeta imaginari [ca], the journalist Gemma Busquets, who specializes in television, was ultimately positive about the episode's content.

El títol del reportatge de “30 minuts” era il·lustratiu del que hi trobaríem: “La independència, pas a pas”. Impecable en la confecció, amb entrevistes a experts constitucionalistes i economistes d’aquí i d’allà, declaracions d’arxiu de polítics, el missatge oficial del govern espanyol en la veu del ministre Gallardón, la contextualització internacional amb les situacions que viuen el Quebec, Kosova i Escòcia… Amb arguments i raonaments, el treball periodístic, diguin el que diguin els que estan a les trinxeres, seguia la política del seny que impera en el procés de canvi que viu Catalunya.

The title of the recent “30 Minuts” report perfectly illustrates what viewers will find: “Independence, step by step.” Impeccable in its preparation, including interviews with constitutional and economics experts from across the board, archived speeches by politicians, the official voice of the Spanish government in Minister of Justice Gallardón, the international contextualization comparing the Catalan situation with that of Québec, Kosovo and Scotland… Reasonable arguments and good journalism over political and activist rhetoric — it's serious policy debate that seems to be prevailing in the process of change that Catalonia is experiencing.

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