The year 2022 has also not been an easy year for Basque roads. Although pandemic measures and/or restrictions have been falling behind, the same has not happened with the consequences of the pandemic. Moreover, the increased role, electricity, fuels and, in general, life, due to the international conflict situation, has directly influenced the daily life of the media in Basque.Well, in this difficult and unique context, negotiations have taken place on the call for grants to the media in Basque from the main institutions of Araba, Bizkaia and Gipuzkoa. While the 2019 agreement had points of improvement and initially achieved them, we have warned of the need to take measures to alleviate the damage caused by the increase in life. If that were not enough, and in talks to adapt the aid bags to public institutions to the new context, the war has erupted in the heart of Europe, substantially aggravating all the previous conclusions.
Calls and grant decisions 2022-2024
Initially, as has already been mentioned, one of the main demands of the sector has been the need to update the standard costs, i.e. to increase the revenue earmarked for the call, with the aim of overcoming the shortcomings of the 2019 agreement and adapting it to the new context, but the institutions have only agreed to increase their exchanges by 5%.
Moreover, at the end of the year, with the resolution of the calls, other shortcomings have been highlighted. Some media outlets have significantly increased their production and new projects have been presented, but money exchanges have not increased to the same extent, so that 5% increase has not reached all media and in some cases has been lower than in 2019. Besides the need to update the standard costs, it has been stressed that new projects should be provided with the resources corresponding to the call, but this has not been done and the consequences have been borne by the other media.
All of this, as has already been pointed out, in a difficult and particular context of the greatest increase in old life, caused by the pandemic and war, and if before the reasons for significantly increasing the pockets of money for the calls were already evident, they are now even more obvious. In any case, in the coming months we continue to work on finding solutions to all these problems, both economic and structural.
Pandemic aid per second year
The issue of subsidies is not over here. The direct subsidies the government granted to the media in the previous year to mitigate the damage caused by the pandemic were also awarded in 2022. On this occasion, unlike the previous one, the distribution was carried out by means of a call, and although more media were supported in Basque than in the previous one, again, most of the media in Basque are excluded from these special aids.
Although in 2021 the government distributed EUR 5 million and in 2022 a million more, i.e. 6 million; although it has increased the stock market by 20% and has supported the media in Basque (2 in the previous and 9 in this case), again more than 9 out of 10 euros (92.3%) has been dedicated to the Spanish-language publishing media (93.4% in the previous).
The association has spoken with the different departments of the Basque Government so that these special aids are opened to all the media in Basque and the figures are higher, but the results have not been expected. The arguments used on this occasion to deny the aid were the lack of or insufficient coverage of daily information. With these arguments, the conditions imposed to present the subsidy to this special call exclude journals and/or themes, such as those lacking a minimum scope, that is, most of the premises. In addition to accessing the call, for the calculation of the amount of the aid, the data of the CIES entity have been used, so that, besides excluding the media not measured by that company, it has not been taken into account when calculating the amount that the media in Spanish and Basque have different potential universes, negatively affecting the media in Basque. It is clear that potential users of the Spanish-language media are all citizens, but in the case of the Basque media only Euskaldunes are potential users. Therefore, it is fair to value the reach of the media according to the universe of each, since not doing so significantly harms the media in Basque.
The association has made a great effort in both calls to guarantee more resources for the media in Basque. In the last year an important work has been carried out in the Basque Media Bureau with the aim of improving the ordinary call and in the case of the special call related to Covid-19, with the same objective has been discussed with departments beyond the VPL, including the Presidency. Moreover, a special effort has been made with the four main political groups in the Gasteiz Parliament in the context of the budgets for 2023, with two rounds of meetings with PNV, PSE, EH Bildu and Jon -Podemos.
In short, great efforts have been made to go beyond the usual forums and interlocutors seeking better conditions for the media in Basque and little progress has been made, but we have moved away from meeting the real needs of the sector.
New steps in the field of innovation
While we take into account the third effort made in this area of support, the results have not been expected. In fact, in all the forums mentioned above, in addition to improving the two aforementioned calls, we have tried to provide new resources to drive innovation processes in the Basque media. In the case of Araba, Bizkaia and Gipuzkoa, as well as in the Media Bureau, we have talked with the various representatives of Lehendakaritza and the main parliamentary groups on this subject, in order to achieve a new and significant innovation in the budgets for 2023, but finally in the government budgets, in the VPL section, a departure has been achieved. In the case of Navarre, work has also been done with the parliamentary groups and, in this case, a better result has been achieved, in the end a budget of EUR 200,000 has been achieved to promote innovation in the media in Basque.
The latter was only part of the sector’s work in the field of innovation in 2022. At the beginning of the year, a round of meetings was held from the partnership with the media that wanted to know what steps and needs were being taken in the field of innovation. They were then asked to think about what kind of innovation projects they would develop if they had the resources and summarize them in a file. A total of 32 projects were put together, considering that two projects were worked out from the association itself and they were taken to a file. For the analysis of all these forms, a seminar was held, among other things, to analyze the possibilities of collaboration and decide on the need to develop from the partnership for all partners. Consulting firm Zabala, specialized in obtaining and developing grants for these types of projects, has also analyzed the fact sheets and the conclusion is clear: most of them have no place in the calls for innovation currently offered by the different institutions, since they are very focused on areas such as technology or industry.
Finally, and indirectly, other works related to innovation have been carried out during 2022. The Association has offered three formative sessions on the different themes that a modern means of communication should address today: data journalism and research by the prestigious engineer Jaime Gomez-Obregon; the efficient management of brands by Ivan Díaz de Branzai; and the economy of attention by the hand of Santiago Giraldo from the Autonomous University of Barcelona.
Important steps have been taken by the Basque Media Observatory to improve the measurement of media audiences in Basque. On the one hand, the first phase of the BEHA project has been developed, so that 8 media in Euskera incorporate the new Google Analytics system and better understand their needs. On the other hand, steps have also been taken in the development of the new Observatory Analytics tool with the aim of offering a new meter or panel that better meets the current media needs. With this objective, the summer course of the UPV/EHU was also held, which lasted two days, and which gave many keys for reflection the course The digital audience of the Basque media: the era of concerted metrics.
These have been, above all, the most important work carried out in 2022 since the Hekimen association, which aspires to be the tool of the sector, but as we shall see later, the media in Basque have continued to take steps.
New rules and streaming platforms
Although the Spanish Audiovisual Law and the new Law imposed a series of obligations on international streaming platforms last year, progress in this area during 2022 has been limited. Some important international streaming platforms have started to offer dubbed and mostly sub-titled content, but overall the offer remains very limited. At the beginning of the year the Subtituluo.eus portal offered to the platforms subtitles of 1,500 films, but it seems that they do not want to seize this opportunity. In the context of the debate on the new Law, it is suggested that EITB should offer the platforms content folded to the Basque country, but in this case it does not seem that there has been any significant progress either, since as the number of content folded to the Catalan in the platforms increases, the same is not happening, or at least to the same extent, with those folded to the Basque country. On the other hand, if we take into account that the EITB group has doubled very few films to the Basque country in the last decade, the delay over the Catalans is even more evident. Because the data is discouraging. In 2022, Euskera Film and Administration groups in Euskera reported that while ETB 2 offered 130 films between May and September, ETB 1 offered no films.
In this context, the EITB group itself has announced the launch of a new streaming platform, called Primeran, in which, although the leaders of the group have pointed out that the Basque country will be the central axis, it remains to be seen in which language they will issue their contents. The only thing that is clear is that it will not be only in Basque, because they have already clarified that they will offer content in Spanish. The Catalan public network TV3 has also announced the launch of its own streaming platform, but in this case those responsible have clearly stated that all contents will be in Catalan.
On the other hand, also in 2022, the commitment of Euskaraz Screens for the dissemination of content in Euskera has been highlighted. The Hekimen Association, with which it collaborated with the Council in improving the Spanish Audiovisual Law, continues its relationship in the coming months in the follow-up to it.
Media context in Basque
Despite the difficult context and the insufficient and late institutional collaboration, the Basque media have continued to take steps to improve and update, as far as possible, its offer.
In the world of communication there is no concrete business model that guarantees stability. Everyone is trying to balance the inputs and outputs and, of course, the media in Basque. The mobile phone has become the main display of content consumption and the growing importance of audiovisual media. The maintenance of normal recipients and access to new ones make it essential not only to offer quality content, but also to adapt them to different supports and even to such platforms, using their characteristics and/or codes. It is not enough to offer on the web what was offered on paper, radio or television. New media and/or platforms must be used and content created and/or adapted for these new tools. The media in Basque are also.
What was the magazine “Travel to the 7 winds”, now called “The Passenger”, besides offering its paper content weekly, once a week a radio program on the Naiz broadcast. Jakin Magazine begins to edit audio-visual shorts about youth philosophy. The UEU has also taken steps in this direction and has offered a number of humorous websites titled Bekaduna. Euskal Wikilarien Kultur Elkartea has also launched the Ikusgela pedagogical videos portal. And the communications and technology company Iametza has created the Memeka .eus project to deliver in Basque the memes that spread so rapidly on the net. Berria has prepared a new web navigation tool for readers. Alea Alavesa launches her new headquarters and corporate image. Antxeta irratia, Berria, Hamaika Telebista and Kanaldudek continue to work on a translation system based on artificial intelligence… These are just examples, as all the Basque media are working in one way or another to improve their supply.
In this sense, the podcast issue deserves special attention. In fact, in 2022 there have been many new projects based on podcasts. Production company Ulu Media, for example, has launched the Step on Meditation and the Invisible Wall on Migrants. This producer is very present in the podcast world and are known, among others, the Black Mirror program that talks about the Donostian culture and has already performed 380 sessions, or the dystopian program Archipelago that is underway its second season and is offered in the Basque Country Irratia. We should also highlight the podcast Planeta Voz on feminist literature created jointly by the Association of Basque Writers and the Azkue Foundation. Friends of the room Laba de Pamplona have created the podcast of Ondo egiten dugu. The Zuzeu portal has continued the podcast Basque criminals started in 2019 in 2022. Those who at first were written content are now also audios. In the same vein, two geographers have transformed the Twitter account from the country that works the organization of towns, cities and territory into podcast. In order to stimulate critical reflection, new episodes are being created and offered in the Basilika podcast project, created in 2021 (Armchairs, Koro, Sakoneta, New Zealand, Verdel, Phoenix Ragazza…). Urtzi, a journalist from New Urkizu, starts a particular podcast program called Croquetas. The EITB group is also strongly present in the podcast world and, among other things, the adventure of Sara and Paul for kids between 6 and 13 years old has generated audiofiquia. Gaztea radio with humor and entertainment, right? He has also launched the new podcast. The program Zapla for change of language habits produced by Topagune and offered by EITB in the Podkast portal is also highlighted. Finally, the podcast Berria on FM feminism, recently awarded by the Association of Basque Journalists in the section of Digital Journalism and New Narratives.
There are also those who have gone further and wanted to offer an image that is not enough to offer audio. This is what Radio Ciudad de Bilbao has done with its Anabasa interview program. And the same thing has been done by creating a surf video podcast in Gaztea irratia. Two surfers, hosts and videos of the podcast, besides being published on the portal of Joven and on its Youtube channel, offer audios on the portal EITB Podkast. On Time producers for EITB Podkast Kuku! Video-podcasts of five stories performed under the title of the collection could also be placed within the scope of these audiovisual specials. Also the vital video podcast of the association Izan inurri (Min), which aims to demolish cancer taboos from feminism. There are even those who have jumped from the podcast to the website, which is the case of the podcast Polaina, the actors of the podcast What! have created the website. It is a project in collaboration with the 2nd audiovisual laboratory in Tabakalera, also focused on humor.
It is observed that, in the field of communication in Basque, there is also a progressive increase in the offer related to humor, although in most cases these are projects that are being created outside the media. People of the Atzeko Zuloa project, created in 2018 with the collaboration of the Bagera Society of San Sebastian and the production company Hiru Damatxo, have offered new video sketches through the actresses Nerea Aranburu and Ivan Aizpurua. And some are also encouraged to offer humorous monologues. The actress and humorist Beatriz Egizabal has offered the monologue Mama mia in the context of Feministaldia. Similarly, Mirari Martiako offered his monologue “Contraportada” in the context of Book Day.
The games have also had a significant display in the field of communication in Basque in the last year. Every day, Behin’s success has offered new seasons in 2022 and the final has been offered at ETB 1, but there have also been new projects. Friends of the cooperative Talaios, for example, have translated into Basque the popular game Wordle, as well as the variant of WordlEH or Wikitribia. Likewise, some informatics have translated all Spelling Bee into Basque and offered it, under the name of Berbaxerka, on the portal of Berria, in collaboration with the latter.
More collaborative projects have also been developed. At the beginning of the year, Hamaika Telebista and Kanaldudek together offered the mobilisation called for by Sarek in the Basque capitals for Basque prisoners and prisoners. Aside from the obstacles stemming from the pandemic, Korrika returned in the spring and offered the continuation of the Basque career in collaboration with ETB, Berria, Hamaika, Kanaldude, Goiena, Erlo, Goierri and Canal 28. As early as June, Berria and Euskal Irratia announced the elections to the French Assembly. In the autumn the Tokikom Association presented its usual awards, but this time it awarded all partners, within the framework of its 10th anniversary, in recognition of the collaboration between partners.
New projects focusing on Euskera have also been created in 2022. In particular, a new means of economic communication called Company-BIDEA has been created, covering an important gap in Basque in this area. It has also been a source of joy to see that a number of communication projects have completed over a hundred years: The radio of Irulegi and Xiberuko Botza and 25 other radio stations, Bilbo Hiria, celebrate 40 years of the Aikor Media in Txorierri, 10 the magazine on pedagogy Hazi Hezi and 5 the radio of Amikuze, the youngest Basque radio in Iparralde. Unfortunately, there have also been those who have had to stop. Thus, for example, Bermeo’s Itski radio station, which has completed its 37-year trajectory, has been truncated by the untenable situation of falling revenue.
All of these are just a few examples, a small sample, of the steps the media in Basque are taking to improve their supply. In fact, it is not possible to collect all of them in such an article. In any case, and as can be seen, despite the difficulties, the Basque media continues to make progress. To the above problems have been added the consequences of the pandemic and/or war, but thanks to the Basque media community, our employees, subscribers, collaborators, collaborators and receivers, we continue to make progress as much as possible.