Objectives and requirements of the system
The demand for the need to measure the media diffusion in Basque society long ago. Broadly speaking, we can cite two main documents: the report “The local media in Basque”, published in 2012 by the local media, one (the journal Anboto et al. 2012/); and the Action Plan for the Promotion of the Basque Country approved the same year by the Basque Advisory Council (Euskararen Aholkularitza 2012/).
Report Basque media of popular initiative
This report is the result of the strategic reflection carried out in 2011-2012 by the largest and largest number of media in Basque of the popular initiative. This reflection was carried out within the framework of the Gipuzkoa Berritzen programme of the Provincial Council of Gipuzkoa, in collaboration with Innobasque. One of the results of the reflection was the creation of the Hekimen association.
The report identifies a number of strategic challenges for the Basque media, such as:
1.- The challenge: Implementation of an observatory in view of the role of the sector in the normalization of the Basque country. The objective of the observatory would be to guide and monitor the steps that the sector and public administrations can agree to for the normalization of the Basque country:
- Perform accurate measurement of scope.
Plan of Action for the Promotion of the Basque Country
This document is based on the reflection Euskara 21 approved by the Basque Parliament in 2009 and as a consequence of the work carried out in the Basque Advisory Council, an action plan is proposed.
The Plan attaches great importance to the media in Basque and to advertising in Basque. Among the actions proposed in the media section are:
- Creation and development of a media observatory in Basque.
- To know, through a specific study, the communicative needs of users and the potential public of the media in Basque.
- To build an audio-analysis system adapted to the Basque media.
The issue is therefore not new. And it seems to respond to a broadly identified need. A number of steps have already been taken on these two documents. On the one hand, in 2016, the observatory that was enacted by the media was created. Since then, the observatory has developed various works and projects in this regard. For its part, the CAPV’s Vice-Ministry of Linguistic Policy has integrated media audience data into the Euskera Indicator System in collaboration with the Observatory. And within the same collaboration, steps are being taken to get a more comprehensive measurement system.
It can be said that the direction is good, but at the moment we are far from what communication in Basque would need. For communication in Euskera to advance in the changing landscape we live in, it is essential that the strategic leaders of big business clearly demand data, data and data.
Two words on the evaluation of hearings and consumption
There are two main ways to know how and how far the media reaches society, one that focuses on individuals and the other on social phenomena. The first is based on the measurement and analysis of the audience, analyzing the number of people who consume each media, their profile, the conditions in which this consumption materializes, etc. This approach imposes the quantitative approach (although qualitative techniques are also used) and is the most important. And the communication market is moving a lot of money in today"s world, led largely by the advertising industry. And in order to make the most of advertising, advertisement buyers need to know the audience.
The second approach, on the other hand, places the focus on social facts, less on individual behavior. Believing that what the media affects a society cannot be measured only through quantitative impacts, other, more qualitative instruments are used, but without giving up quantitative ones (e.g. when measuring the economic impact). This approach has a lower presence in media research than the previous one, since, unlike this one, it does not seek short-term benefit. On the contrary, those who have the most interest in this area are those who are concerned about the social consequences of human activities, as is the case of public authorities who sometimes assess whether or not the media meets the requirements of public service in British tradition.
Both approaches should be taken into account when evaluating consumption and communication habits in order to promote the revitalization of the Basque country. It is important that the Basque media act better in the advertising market, but sometimes the type of information required by language policy differs from that obtained for advertising purposes.
Main objectives for the system
The system that requires communication in Basque must meet at least the following objectives:
For the media in Basque:
- Provide feedback on their work.
- Being able to position themselves in the advertising market.
For public institutions:
- To serve as a planning instrument in the field of communication in Basque, based on accurate and elaborated information to assess the results of what has been accomplished and to identify the opportunities and needs of the tasks.
Minimum and desirable conditions
Taking these objectives into account, the system shall comply with the following minimum requirements:
- Scientificity. Using audience as an exchange value in the advertising market is, worldwide, the main objective of research results: “agreed veritat” S. In the words of Cardús, sociologist (Cardús 2007/). This does not detract from the scientific value of these investigations, because if reality is not known as it really is, it will be difficult to achieve advertising its objectives. But it cannot be denied that the fact that the advertising market moves so much money around the world often puts the spotlight on value. And in the face of doubt, it will prevail. While the system that requires communication in Basque is essential to acquire the most accurate and effective knowledge of reality in order to lead linguistic planning and provide feedback on media activity. In other words, it is not enough to obtain a data with an ad exchange value, but to base a policy it must provide a true knowledge of reality.
- Standardisation. This, however, does not rule out the advantages of a system that follows the standards used worldwide. These standards can enable the media to be recognised in the advertising market and consequently increase revenue.
- Consensus. Consensus or consensus is the third condition of audience measurement systems. The techniques used and the results obtained need the approval of all the actors involved to have exchange value. In our case, consensus should be shared by public institutions and the media themselves. Without this, the system poses more problems than solutions.
In addition to these necessary conditions, those that would be desirable can be mentioned:
- Measurements of different dimensions. From the point of view of linguistic planning, as essential as knowing the dissemination of the media in Basque is to know the communicative practices of the population in general and of the Basque people in particular. It is not enough to know how many and how the Basque media is consumed, but also what and how Basque citizens are consumed (with different language skills), both to capture new potential audiences and to design communication policies. The system must therefore cover both dimensions.
- Adaptability. It must be an adaptable system to respond as new sources of information and techniques are developing. Indeed, high-speed changes are taking place both in communication and in the measure of hearings and there is a need to be prepared to change the instruments.
- Continuity. Adaptability should not interfere with data comparability. And that is that one of the greatest values of audience data is the ability to predict trends in terms of past and future evolutions. Therefore, all measurement systems ensure that data is comparable from one moment to the next. In this sense, methodological changes are not easily made. This is a problem when changing the communication, volume and quality of available information, as well as research instruments (Publicom AG 2017/).
- Territoriality. The Basque communication space does not coincide with the territorial distribution of the Basque Country. Many Basque media outlets have audience (real and potential) throughout the Basque Country, although administratively linked to a territory. Therefore, with the administrative support the system has, it is essential to look beyond the territory. And this is more true than ever in the network age.
Hearing investigation in Europe
Clearly, audience measurement is important for the advertising market with a growing turnover. This market foretold them EUR 127 billion in the European Union (European Commission d. g.). This puts hearings investigations at the heart of decisions: Spending on market research in the old continent reached 14.5 billion euros in the same year.
The results of these studies have a high exchange value. The data provided by the investigation should be accepted as an exchange by market players, advertising sellers (media and media) and purchasers (advertising agencies and advertisers). Like money, in order for change to take place it is imperative that both countries recognise its value to the currency.
Concerning organisation and governance, in general, the market regulates the measurement of hearings in most cases, whether a private enterprise producing and selling data, media and advertising syndication, or a mixed system between the two, in most cases the administration is excluded, except in cases where the social function required by public funding is monitored (e.g. in the UK). In our case, as language policy is one of the objectives of the system, it would be logical to think that administrations should have a certain presence.
Methodologies used in European systems are very different to respond, among other things, to the change in the communication landscape. Census data (i.e. data measuring actual consumption, e.g. digital traffic) and sample data (sample based data) are combined. The former are easier to get, but they show zero consumption: the number of clicks this medium has had on its platform, the time, the time, etc., but they do not indicate who has been behind each click (e.g. the consumer’s sociodemographic or linguistic profile), or what other media consumption has had to click. Sampling is necessary through mixed systems such as the audiometric system or through multimedia surveys (combining people profiles and consumption habits).
Studies conducted with these samples and methodologies are obviously costly. Although measurement agencies are reluctant to publish their annual budgets, there are some data published (Publicom AG 2017/). Among them, budgets move from EUR 4 million in Austria to EUR 10 million in France, always for press hearings (the measurement of television audiences tends to be more expensive).
References for minority languages
We have focused on other cases that can be found in situations similar to ours, always within Europe (as research on the most developed minority languages is in the old continent).
From the Basque Country, Catalonia, Wales and Galicia can be the main media referents in minority languages. In fact, in comparative research (Zabaleta et al. 2018/), 123 media were identified in Basque, being ours, after Catalan (751), the second in number of media. The third was Welsh, with 84 media outlets. And the fourth Galician, 60. Irish and Breton were still 12 media outlets in a row and the lower numbers.
A few years ago there was the idea of creating a system for measuring media audiences in Welsh, but it didn"t thrive. Therefore, the weld media depends on the British measurement system. Consequently, while TV S4C data can be followed by audiometry and panels, in the rest of the media the information is very weak.
The evaluation of the public media service in the UK is interesting. Regulators analyse whether public funding is meeting their objectives by combining quantitative and qualitative indicators (Ofcom 2020/).
Like Wales, there is no adapted system in Galicia for measuring the audiences of the Galician media. Spanish systems predominate, leaving out most of the media of this language.
Nos Diario, the only Galician newspaper, is measured in OJD in terms of digital support. But not in EGM.
In Catalonia, efforts to build a system to specifically measure media audiences in the Catalan language are very old.
The most important programme so far started in 2007: Baròmetre de la Comunicació i la Cultura, received great public support from the FUNDACC Foundation (Sabaté 2019/). The Barmetro served to put on the table a reality that had hitherto hidden the audience studies. The use of a sample and its own entity adapted to the Catalan media was key. However, the system was too expensive and after accumulating significant losses it was suspended in 2012 (Castelví 2011/). Subsequently, FUNDACC reached an agreement with EGM to improve the measurement of Catalan media audiences by increasing the latter’s sample. This opened the way for radio broadcasters years before. The cost of the agreement was EUR 600,000 per year. But the result did not satisfy the media, and in 2017 the agreement was cancelled, returning the samples to the situation in 2006. At present, only the pact with the Catalan broadcasters is maintained.
After 10 years of experience, the measurements of the audiences return to their place in Catalonia. For the evaluation of public aid calls, OJD data is used where they exist; for the rest of the calls, printing costs are justified (in the case of printed media).
A detailed barometer evaluation is never recorded. But with its main creators and developers, the following stand out:
The Catalan media and the Catalan communication space should increase visibility. The barometer was born mainly to respond to this need. In this sense, the results were evident both in terms of the social presence and the sale of advertising. When closing the barometer and moving to EGM, the loss was noted.
The project was too ambitious and had funding problems.
The introduction of the “second data” in the measurement of the hearings created problems. Introducing a second source of data where there was only EGM data, it broke a condition of measuring advertising audiences: the consensus, with which the media tended to prioritize the most favored system, and the advertising buyers did not take the barometer very much into account; the Generalitat had to decide to distribute its puberty according to the Barometer data so that this instrument could have a certain presence in the advertising market.
Information on communication habits, consumption and impact in the Basque Country
In recent decades, attempts have been made to understand the reality of communication in Euskera, but it has remained in project or halfway. Three are worth highlighting: EUKO, COEBS and Observatory.
In addition to these projects, there are several data sources. Both will be reviewed on the following pages.
- The EU-Euskal Komunikabideak (EUKO) project was part of the Irigoienazpikoa Project. The project consisted basically of a project launched by the Andoain City Hall in 2009 to create a meeting point between non-hegemonic languages in a building in the locality. It would also include EUKO, a media audience measurement agency in Euskera (Evans et al. 2011/). Following the model of the Barometer of Catalonia, we proposed the creation of a foundation with three legs: researchers, administration and communication and advertising companies. The survey would be conducted in a large sample, and although agreement with the CIES is not ruled out, it was intended to overcome its work both in governance and in the survey, sample and data collection methodology.Finally, the Irigoienazpikoa Project did not go ahead, leaving the EDU project suspended.
- The Media Social Value Study Project (KOBS) was launched in 2015 by the research group HEZOM of Mondragon Unibertsitatea (Zuberogoitia et al. ). 2015/). The objective of measuring the social value of the media is also to measure variables that do not appear in the usual monetary budgets and movements. In fact, media activity indirectly generates other values. If this means of communication did not exist or did not work, the wealth generated in other sectors or companies would not be generated. Measuring this is the objective of measuring social value (Bidegain et al. 2016/). In the first session, the analyses of Berria and Goiena were performed, but the analysis has not been repeated.
- Since its inception, the Observatory has intended to know and analyze media audiences in Basque.Among its lines of work is the collection and exploitation of different sources of information. Within this line, several studies have been carried out resulting from:
- Create a historical CIES database. After major recovery work, data from public roads have been obtained, covering all media measured by the CIES. The main results of this database have been integrated into the Basque System of Indicators.
- Exploit CIES data. The software Tom Micro has been able to integrate data from earlier times. Also, in 2019, the observatory introduced a new variable in the CIES survey, the first language of the interviewee.
- Data collection and analysis of television audiometry. On the one hand, since 2000, CAPV"s audience data have been obtained from Kantar Media, according to the public and the linguistic profile of the households measured. On the other hand, in the year 2020, data collection started daily, according to the linguistic profile of the public. This data is made available to researchers through the Data Studio app.
Despite the great collection of data, the Observatory has not been able, due to lack of human resources, to analyze the data in a deep and comprehensive way, whose usefulness is only visible in specific works.
Characteristics of available sources of information
In addition to the work carried out by the observatory, there are several institutions and tools that collect first-hand information. These sources of information can be classified as sources that directly measure the dissemination of the media and as sources that measure the communication habits of the population. We could also differentiate between what is done systematically and what is done punctually.
Regarding the media, another distribution would be the coverage of the analyzed, on the one hand there are those that measure the media in different media (such as CIES or EGM) and on the other hand those that measure the specific media (such as Google Analytics or Kantar Media). And those who measure a single means of communication (own surveys).
As a summary, the table below shows the main sources of information available to learn about current communication practices in the Basque Country.
The wider explanation and access to these sources of information can be found on the Centre"s website
Information from various sources on the consumption of communication by the Basque population is available here. But this information is partial, dispersed and incomplete. More seriously, existing information is not enough to guide media strategies, or to design language communication policy.
It is therefore urgent to establish a system that analyzes communication habits from the perspective of the revitalization of the Basque country.
Urgent and urgent, because communication habits are changing very quickly and very deeply. Over the past five years, screens have shifted the role in reading the written press, which has allowed a high level of reading of the press (although the way of reading has changed), but the Spanish press has been the main winner. In the audiovisual media, streaming services (especially Youtube), which were born fifteen years ago, quickly moved linear television among young people; and the VOD platforms (especially Netflix) that arrived to us in 2016 (Arana Arrieta et al.) have given a spectacular boost to this trend. 2019/) (Arana Arrieta et al. 2021/). We are aware of how these and other movements are occurring globally, but little about how they affect Euskera and, above all, how they can be used to revitalize Euskera.
In order to know what is happening with the media in Basque, what the Basques are doing, and how Basque citizenship in general behaves with languages, a comprehensive system is needed that gathers and integrates the different sources of information and uses different methodologies. Measuring digital traffic offers great possibilities, but limitations are evident (lack of socio-demographic and linguistic data, inability to measure the different consumption of the same person, etc.). ). Surveys, as shown by the large investments of all European countries, are essential, but they also have important limitations such as the technical and economic inability to measure the reach of municipal journals (due to sampling needs) or the difficulty in measuring last-minute communication practices, to mention but two.
Regarding surveys, in the South Basque Country we have an excellent opportunity with CIES measurements. The measurement of the consumption of so many media from the border and the debate, with a stable methodology, provides gold data to analyze the evolution of communication in Basque, as well as to know the consumption habits of the citizens of Hego Euskal Herria, according to their linguistic abilities. It is also an essential tool for the media in Basque (not all, but the largest) to play in the advertising market. This option is not known in any other region of Europe. On the other hand, the consideration of audimetry data as an analysis of units in the Autonomous Community of the Basque Country should be considered as an advantage, although with its limitations.
The time has come, therefore, to put in place a system that has turned and turned over several years, with a consensus reached and with solid tools at its disposal, that analyzes the communicative customs of the Basque Country from the point of view of the revitalization of the Basque country.
magazine Anboto, Argia, EKT-Hitza, Elhuyar Fundazioa, Goiena Komunikazio Zerbitzuak, Pausumedia, Sustatu, and Topagunea. 2012/. Basque media of popular initiative. Gipuzkoa: Gipuzkoa Berritzen; Innobasque.
Arana Arrieta, Edorta, Bea Narbaiza Amillategi, Katixa Agirre Migelez, Asier Amezaga Etxebarria, Maialen Goirizelaia Altuna, Naia Laka Arrizubieta, Blanca Miguelez Juan, Itziar Zorita Agirre, New 2019/. Audiovisual consumption on television. UPV/EHU
Arana Arrieta, Edorta, Bea Narbaiza Amillategi, Katixa Agirre Migelez, Asier Amezaga Etxebarria, Maialen Goirizelaia Altuna, Naia Laka Arrizubieta, Blanca Miguelez Juan, Itziar Zorita Agirre, New 2021/. Panel 2021-2022: audiovisual consumption. UPV/EHU
Bidegain, Eneko, Igor Agirre, Jone Amonarriz Zubeldia and Ainhoa Larrañaga Elorza. 2016/ “The social value of the Goiena and BERRIA media: the first adaptations of a new meter for the Basque press”. Uztaro: Journal of Humanities and Social Sciences (Uztaro 98):79–96.
Cardús, Salvador. 2007/ “La mesura d’audiències a Catalunya: the Baròmetre de la Comunicació i la Cultura”. P. 287–91 in Report of the Communication to Catalonia 2005-2006. Barcelona: Communication Institute. Autonomous University of Barcelona.
Castelví, Albert. 2011/ “The Director General of the Baròmetre diu that “de moment” is not previst tancar-lo”. Ara.cat, April 6.
European Commission. d. ‘Eurostat’. Retrieved 3 March 2011 (http://epp.eurostat.ec.europa/portal/page/portal/eurostat/home/).
Advisory Council of the Basque Country. 2012/. Plan of Action for the Promotion of the Basque Country. Vitoria-Gasteiz: Central Publishing Service of the Basque Government.
José, Jeremy, Fernando Williams, Elixabete Larrinaga, Josep Gifreu, and Iban Arantzabal. 2011/ Sub-Irigoien: non-hegemonic or mid-level languages in the media and ICT. Andoain: City Hall of Andoain.
Ofcom. 2020/ Public Service Broadcasting (PSB). Ofcom. Retrieved 30 October 2020 (https://www.ofcom.org.uk/tv-and-on-demand/information-for-industry/public-service broadcasting).
Publicom AG. 2017/. Audience and Media Use Research - An International Perspectiv.pdf. Kilchberg: Swiss Federal Office of Communications.
Sabaté, Joan. 2019/. ‘L’impte de Les Institucions de Mesurament d’audiències En Els Mitjans Locals. Kr Del Cas Català’. Tripods (46):137–56.
Zabaleta, Iñaki, Arantza Gutierrez, Carme Ferré-Pavia, Itxaso Fernández, and Nicolás Xamardo. 2018/. ‘Facts and Transformations in European Minority Language Media Systems amid Digitalization and Economic Crisis’. International Communication Gazette 174804851875474. doi: 10.1177/1748048518754749.
Zuberogoitia, Aitor, Eneko Bidegain, Txema Egaña, and Ainhoa Larrañaga. 2015/ “The social value of the media: a new object of research in the field of communication in Basque”. jakin.eus recovered (https://www.jakin.eus/aztertu/artikulua).
1 This article is based on a report prepared for the VPL. Although this report is mainly intended for the CAPV, much more summary information is available on this occasion. The report can be found on the Centre"s website.
2 According to press reports, the average annual contribution of the Generalitat was 2 million euros during the project (Vallespín, 2017). This amount is among the parameters of European measurement systems.
3 Interviews with Salvador Cardús, Joan Sabaté and information from Helena Solà.