The audiovisual context has changed dramatically in recent years. Internet, social networks and streaming platforms have revolutionized traditional consumer habits. Today, most of the world’s productions are within our reach and we can consume what we want anywhere and anytime. In this scenario, minority languages such as Euskera have no easy path. In order to shed some light, in this work an X-ray of the current situation of the audiovisual in Basque is performed, centered on the qualitative view.
This pilot study has analyzed the current consumption of audiovisual in Basque, its production and the sector itself, broadening the vision offered by the available reports. Currently, in Hego Euskal Herria one in two people is a subscriber of a VOD platform (Video on Demand) - in the case of young people almost eight out of ten [Observatory, 2022] -, so it is essential to increase the irrelevant presence of Euskera in these digital fields. Streaming platforms have become a socialization tool in which many filmmakers, actors, actors, technicians, industry experts, researchers and popular movements have praised the word, both to firmly bet on Basque fiction and to reinforce it still abandoned duplication and subtitles. From a quantitative point of view, the data tells us that we are better than ever before, but given that we are from scratch, it is not very difficult to achieve that mark. Audiovisual production in Basque is constant (podcasts, video games, content created for different social networks, video clips…) but in a very dispersed way. Therefore, the demand for a platform that gathers all these contents in Basque has been extended: a platform created from the Basque country for the Basques. It will soon be seen whether the platform being developed by EITB Primeran meets this desire.
Below are a few data from some recent studies. They will better understand the current situation of audiovisual media.
Regarding the scope of the media in the Spanish State, the Internet is imposed: It was 87.6% in 2021. Television (83.3%) and radio (54.6%) followed. The trend in recent years is clear: Internet is rising (26.9% in 2003), while television and radio are falling (90.7% in 2003 and 51.3% respectively). There is also a decline in cinema (in 2003 9%; in 2021 1.6%), magazines (in 2003 53.1%; in 2021 22.6%) and newspapers (in 2003 39.7%; in 2021 13.07%) [AIMC, 2022]. This is clearly seen in the following graph:
Evolution of the general media hearing 1995-2021. Scope (%)
Source: AIMC General Media Framework Report 2022 (page 11).
The above graph clearly shows that the presence of the Internet (1995) has significantly influenced the hearing of the other media. From its dissemination, the use of most media has decreased considerably. Today, along with the Internet, we can identify television as the main means of communication. However, the latter has suffered strongly the creation of the network, which no longer has any strength, influence and audience a decade ago. In view of the data, the Internet is certainly the future. It includes, among others, streaming platforms that have been shot in recent years.
Evolution of the subscribed population to streaming platforms in Hego Euskal Herria, 2018-2021.
Source: Basque Media Observatory. Streaming platforms in Hego Euskal Herria, Audience Study 2022.
In Hego Euskal Herria one in two people over 14 is a subscriber of a streaming platform. In certain age groups this mean is significantly higher: Between 35 and 54 years there are six in ten, seven in ten between 25 and 34, and between 14-24 there are almost eight in ten. According to state data, Netflix is also the leading platform, with 85% subscribers (half the population). Amazon Prime Video (52%) and HBO (22%) follow [Observatory, 2022].
Similarly, data obtained from Ikusiker Panel2 are interesting. More than half of the young participants claim to use these platforms between 3 and 5 times a week or more frequently (29.6% between 3 and 5 times a week versus 26.7% every day). Only 6.7% say they never use them. Considering the language of audio, the contents of these platforms are mainly consumed in Spanish (67.7%). Then, a quarter commonly consume in English (26.5%). People who see it in Basque are 0.7% and in French 0.3%. Another 4.8% indicates another language. In the same vein, they were asked which television channels they would recommend to watch the fiction, with the FDF (19.8%) and Antena 3 (18.0%) being the first. Four (15.8%) and Tele 5 (8.9%) follow. ETB channels are among the least frequent3: ETB 3 3.8%, ETB 2 3.7% and ETB 1 3%. On the other hand, almost a quarter of respondents (24%) recommend viewing fictional content in other channels. Finally, 28.6% of respondents would not recommend traditional television to watch fictional content [Ikusiker, 2020-2022].
This data shows that the future of the audiovisual and above all of fiction is on the Internet and on streaming platforms. But what is the place of the Basque people in them? What about the other media? Research on Euskeras4 Screens provides the following data:
- Of the 50 television channels, only ETB 1, ETB 3 and Hamaika Telebista are in Basque. In some regions also local television channels.
- Of the 700 films per year in cinemas, the five and ten creators in the Basque Country are those who double in Euskera and the other ten or twelve who double the children in the Zinemak Euskaraz program.
- On the streaming platforms there are 26,000 contents in Basque (not to win)
- On social networks, and on the Internet in general, the Basque is excluded. A lot needs to be done to be able to consume content in Basque.
Objectives, assumptions and methodology
The objective of this study is to make a first approximation to the audiovisual panorama in Basque and analyze the consumption, production and current situation of the sector. In summary, to perform an X-ray of the audiovisual situation in Basque. With this, it has been sought to identify the weaknesses of the sector in Basque and, subsequently, to know the measures to be adopted. This study also aimed to demonstrate the effectiveness of the proposed methodology. Attention has also been paid to the following points:
- New audiovisual consumption habits.
- Trajectory of productions in Basque on large streaming platforms.
- Features the Basque Netflix should have.
- The dubbing and subtitling sector and its potential.
- Role of EITB as the engine of Basque and Basque audiovisual media.
- Role of other public institutions (promotion, subsidies, strategies…)
- Analysis of the description of the situation of young people, popular movements, professionals of the sector and experts in the field of communication.
- Existing and appropriate sectoral laws, institutions and councils.
- Relationship and differences between the situation of the Basque and Catalan and Galician audiovisual sectors.
Once the objectives have been set, the assumptions used have been:
1 : The current supply and low audiovisual production in Basque is the result of inadequate strategies and policies that have been followed for years.
2 : The appearance of streaming platforms has made the future of the audiovisual media in Basque more difficult than contributing: in the face of such a wide offer it is difficult to highlight our productions. If we compare budgets, we"re playing in different leagues. At the same time, the development of appropriate strategies can make it possible to place the Basque Country and the Basque Country in the world.
3 : The scarce presence of the Basque language in the audiovisual media directly affects the use and socialization of the Basque language.
Qualitative and quantitative methodologies have been combined to contrast or reject these hypotheses. As noted above, qualitative technique has been the priority, as it has sought to deepen the needs of the audiovisual market in Basque. This methodology, beyond the data, has allowed to know the concerns, desires and needs of users and professionals. To this end, several previous research, reports and analyses have been analysed and elaborated. Secondly, a survey was disseminated among the students of the School of Social Sciences and Communication of the UPV/EHU to know the interests, desires and consumption needs of their audio-visual. Third, a visiting team has been carried out to compare the different views and opinions of professionals and researchers working in the sector. Fourthly, several interviews have been conducted with experts and professionals in the sector to obtain their opinion in greater depth (The identities of the informants who have participated in these last two techniques have been coded to ensure confidentiality and anonymity). Finally, the research work has been analyzed by a professional who has made political decisions about the sector to emphasize the relevant areas of work and that should be worked for the future.
67 students from the UPV School of Social Sciences and Communication
18 to 23 years (80.4%)
Mostly women (70.1%)
Students of Audiovisual Communication, Journalism and Advertising and Public Relations (86.6%)
Studies and reports
Film director and screenwriter. Author of several successful Basque films.
Member of the Euskera Screens movement. Bachelor of Business Management.
Filmmaker, writer and communication researcher
PhD in Audiovisual Communication. Expert in cultural policy and television in minority languages in Europe
Researcher and journalist in the field of communication. Thorough knowledge of the Basque media sector
Study by an administrative professional specialized in the sector
Professor of Basque Philosophy (1988)
First female member of the Basque Country (1992)
EITB Linguistic Advisor (2000)
Minister for Culture of the Basque Government (2001-2009) and spokesperson (2004-2009)
Director of the Basque Institute of the UPV/EHU (2019)
Studies and reports
Given that the extent of this article is limited, through their citations we will provide some keys to the analysis that the professionals who have participated in the original work have made regarding their field of knowledge. We will also comment on some data from the survey. Below we present the ideas and proposals that have emerged from them and the other techniques. All research is available in the UPV/EHU Digital Archives for Teaching and Research (ADDI). Here are some mounds.
SI9: In relation to film, I would say that we are at such a special moment to be surprised, especially because there are many filmmakers who naturally work in Basque. Young people also come very strong, make short films of Christian quality or very interesting first films and are very varied from the point of view of the approach. The work of the authors is adapting to current trends. It"s not like before, because a lot of the films that were made in Euskera went out into the market with doubt.
NO14: I believe that for the first time there is now or is a Basque film emerging. In a way, what in any other country is called a cinematography: different authors, different genres, that can affect things different from different audiences -- that"s what we start to see now. What happens? When we started creating this, the situation has changed, so it was said that somehow, "Well, quality is going to bring the public no?" Quality will bring it,” it is true. The better films we go forward, but by then in the world it has already passed a step or a screen, by the time we become more or less like the others, now we have to pass two screens at a time.
PT2: I would say that the audiovisual situation is more difficult than it was today, because it is on the scene more offer than before and in the face of this production and supply of hyper it is difficult for the product itself to be known by people and consumed by people (…) As for language, the paths to learn Basque are several, whether the transmission at home, whether from a community or above all the school. What happens is that more and more people are socialized in the school, and then, once the school is finished, we jump into the labor world, still a long way from euskaldunifying the labor world, and that doesn"t help socialize the Basque country and use it. Then another important part is leisure. Streaming platforms have increasing weight at leisure time, and not only that, but above all the digital environment. Streaming platforms within the digital environment are an important part. So it influences, because in the end I, as a Basque speaker and as a person who wants to live in Basque, cannot live in Basque because in the offer I have on these platforms I cannot choose the Basque. This affects the citizen who has an active desire, the citizen who does not have an active desire to imagine… the effect is much greater. It affects use, increases knowledge, but some use remains. Streaming platforms are one of the places available.
Continuing with the above, we will analyze data extracted from the survey disseminated among young people from the CSIC Faculty of the UPV/EHU. First, they are asked whether they habitually consume the following contents and which of them in Basque later. In the case of the consumption of contents in Basque, there has been a significant decrease, except in the information. Therefore, it is clear what is the strength (information) and what are the weaknesses (other genres) of the contents in Basque.
3. Illustration: Content consumed by language (%)
Source: Compilation by the author.
CR10: I believe that what has the highest quality in the Basque film is the same, the productions in Basque made firsthand. Of course, this may be a year, at best, if you make two or three films. Nowadays quantity plays an important role in the content, we are now consuming a lot with streaming platforms, and that cannot be satisfied with the productions themselves, you cannot feed a platform or a television. So I"m going to move on to another level, doubling, collecting the rights of films, buying them and bending them, folding foreign films. At the moment, almost exclusively childhood films are doubling, which doubles Zineuskadi, twelve a year. If you do not have a referent, every week an offer of two or three movies normally, it is difficult to create routines, you have to dedicate yourself to the cinema to watch a film in Basque. You go to the movies in the Spanish cases and you see what"s there, that is, what you"re going to see before without knowing how to watch a movie. In Euskera you can"t do it, if you go to a movie theater on the billboard today and there"s almost nothing in Euskera. And the little that"s probably going to be for the kids. The fact that Zineuskadi has twelve films folded and in numbers is scarce and the path followed by the Basque Telebist for years has not been the most appropriate for the creation of contents in Basque. It has made co-productions, etc., but there is a big problem in dubbing.
With regard to the latter, Miren Azkarate points out the following:
‘The dubbing and subtitling sector is undoubtedly a key sector. But EiTB has not had much interest in recent years, despite being aware of the opinion of the sector (…) the lack of a solid sector means that there are few people trained in dubbing”
BM3: With regard to public subsidies, there can and should be more public money, especially so that professionals working in the sector can live from their productions, because today it is very precarious to work in the audiovisual sector in Basque and most people have to work to make progress on something else. There should be more money, but not only public money, but also more private money. There should be more public policies to attract that private money into audiovisual production, such as tax incentives. With regard to dissemination, a minimum. There is no audiovisual dissemination in Basque. There is no fixed strategy designed inside the house or out. What is there is very limited and very small. I think this is because there is no strong planning or strategy that takes into account expansion, either as a sector or as a specific element. One thing is production, another thing is financing and another thing is dissemination. Nowadays, moreover, the expansion with streaming platforms should not be conceived as previously thought. We are in another dimension and we must respond to other needs. So it seems to me that expansion is not contemplated per se, now everything is very diffuse at home. We do not think of a common and comprehensive strategy.
The survey, the group and the interviews have identified an evident gap of fiction in Euskera and its responsibility. The member of the EITB Directorate in submitting this analysis replies:
UV15: I agree. I agree as a spectator. What happens is that then as ETB managers and when it comes to managing the budget it is difficult because fiction is very expensive. With the cost of a chapter of Go!azen, thirty-seven chapters of Biba Enea can be recorded. That"s the proportion. So, as EITB we know that we need to drive local production, but it is true that, in view of the budgets we have, it seems a lot from the outside, but television is very expensive, it doesn"t look like everything we want to do. At the end of last year we started a reflection to review the strategy of our fiction and what we are doing now is trying to make fiction content in co-production with platforms. For example, even winning will also be at Disney, making it easier for us not to eat our entire global budget. So, yes, because as a drought doing all this thinking, we"ve stopped production a little bit. We didn"t have the money to be able to do everything we wanted, so we had to think we"re going to do less, and I didn"t want that because I think it"s important that EITB drive the production of fiction, or how we"re going to do or we"re going to keep up with the previous pace but in a sustainable economic and budgetary way. So we decided, after talking to Netflix and Amazon, that there are some common areas of interest that we"re going to work on together. Both with Amazon and with Netflix, we have fiction projects, like the next recording that"s now going on, which is now in the pre-production phase, is not for the Go!azen kids and how they are until Irabira, it"s for the older ones, it"s going to be recorded in the North and in the South and it"s around a surf school.
Lines of reflection
The above references and data have allowed us a first approximation to the current situation of the audiovisual media in Basque. As has been said, these are only a small part of the Master"s End Work. The following summarizes some ideas and proposals collected in the group and interviews:
- Audiovisual consumption has skyrocketed since the appearance of streaming platforms. Consumption habits have changed radically, highlighting Internet consumption in the loss of traditional content. This change has mainly been observed among young people, but in most age groups the trend is the same.
- The situation of the Basque Country in this context of increased audiovisual consumption is worrying. Although Basque productions have increased considerably in the last fifteen years, they are not sufficient for the current demand of the public. In addition to further promoting production in Basque, the sector of subtitling and dubbing must be greatly enhanced. In addition to increasing subsidies, a sound strategy must be developed, a political decision must be taken. It is also urgent to create a digital content strategy in Basque. The lack of visibility of content in Basque is worrying when all audiovisual media in the world are available in one click.
- Keeping the previous point, some Basque films that have emerged in recent years have achieved a remarkable success outside the borders of Euskal Herria. Although they are produced more than 15 years ago, they are not enough. It is impossible to create a habit of attending cinemas with an offer in Basque. Cinemas also need to be radically reshaped. The Covid19 pandemic further aggravated the critical situation of movie theaters, where many people definitively acquired the habit of consuming home movies. Serious lack of series in Basque. Continuous production and continuity must be put in place. EITB must play a key role in this. There is also a need to double international success series.
- ETB has just turned 40 and you can highlight a few points. First, as established by the law of creation, it must be the engine of the audiovisual and the instrument of normalization of the Basque Country in Euskera (Law 5/1982). In recent years the contents in Spanish have been clearly identified by professionals, experts and popular movements in the sector. The new direction seems to want to turn it around and for this it has launched several projects. It will soon be seen if it is complied with. Secondly, in addition to giving priority to the chains in Basque in the resources and in the programming, increasing the presence of the Basque in the Spanish channels of ETB is fundamental to bring the Basque people closer to the Castilian speaking people and to give social prestige to the Basque people. Thirdly, the weakness of ETB and EITB in general in the digital arena. It must maintain and adapt to new consumption habits and trends. The Primeran platform to be launched this year is a first step.
- The level of knowledge of Euskera has increased in recent years, but not its use. It is essential to bring the Basque school to the streets. At a time when audiovisual products are an increasingly important part of our socialization, the increase of audiovisual products in Basque is essential for the health of the language itself.
- As for the laws, it is necessary to regulate the activity of global actors at the state and Basque level. It is the only way to establish linguistic profiles, both to streaming platforms and to television, cinema and other actors. To this end, in addition to the strong state laws (the General Audiovisual Law, which goes further), it is necessary to create a Law of Audiovisual and Basque Cinema.
- Necessity of setting up the Basque Audiovisual Council. The Council of Europe recommends its creation and exist in our environment, at international level we can cite Belgium or France and in the State Catalonia, Andalusia or Valencia. It is an indispensable instrument for the implementation of audiovisual laws and for the defence of linguistic rights. It is also a sign of transparency.
- The audiovisual sector is constantly changing. New actors appear as streaming platforms and the power relationship between them (television, platforms, film…) is changing. Such changes require new measures, laws, projects and strategies, especially in a language and sector such as ours. It is therefore essential to promote research.
AIMC (2022). General Media Framework in Spain, available at https://www.aimc.es/a1mc-c0nt3nt/uploads/2022/01/marco 2022.pdf
Barlovento Communication (2021). 2021 Anuan lysis of the audiovisual television industry, available at https://barloventocomunicacion.es/wp-content/uploads/2022/05/2021-ANALYSIS -TELEVIVO-BARLOVENTO -COMUNICACION-1.PDF
New (2022). Euskera, on the screens, blurred, available at https://www.berria .eus/paperekoa/1913/010/001/2022-12-01/euskara -apantall-lauso. htm [Date of consultation: 09/01/2023].
Basque Media Observatory (2022). Streaming platforms in the Southern Basque Country, audience study available at https://behuntza.eus/eu/upgrade-spend -sur-euskal-aids- study/
Larrinaga, Asier (2019). Creation, development and function of the Basque Television in the context of the normalization of the Basque Country. Doctoral thesis. Bilbao: UPV/EHU
Research Group NOR (2020). “Audiovisuals recommended by theme and support”. 7 of the Ikusiker University Panel. Report. January 2020. Applika research project (US17/40). UPV/EHU http://ikusiker.eus
Research Group NOR (2022). “Panel 2021-2022: streaming platforms.” 31 Panel Ikusiker University. Report. April 2022. Applika research project (US17/40). UPV/EHU http://ikusiker.eus
Other sources used in the study:
AIMC (2021). 23 Navigators on the 2021 network, available at https://www.aimc.es/others-studies -jobs/navigators -la-red/
Euskal Irrati Telebista (2022). EITB 2030 Strategy: The future that unites us. Bilbao: EITB. Available at https://www.ei.eus/multimedia/corporate/documents/EITB _STRATEGY _2030_EUS.pdf
Kike Amonarriz (2018). Available from the watchtower of sociolinguistics on the future of EiTB at https://www.aurrezki .eus/ic2/restAPI/pvgun_download/default/b00303a6-187b-4852-ab43-dc4036b8276c
Research Group NOR (2021). “2021-2022 Audiovisual Consumption Panel”. 26 from the Ikusiker University Panel. Report. November 2021. Applika research project (US17/40). UPV/EHU http://ikusiker.eus
Research Group NOR (2021). “Series consumption”. 18 from the Ikusiker University Panel. Report. February 2021. Applika research project (US17/40). UPV/EHU http://ikusiker.eus
Basque Screens (2021). Audiovisual manifesto in Basque language, available at https://www.begirakeuskaraz.eus/
Cluster of Sociolinguistics (2021). Street measurement of use of languages, available at https://soziollinguika .eus/wp-content/uploads/2022/05/hekn21_
1 This article is a summary of the Master"s Final Work in Multimedia Communication (UPV-EHU) under the direction of Joseba Ezeiza.
2 This Panel is part of the Applika Research project and consists of researchers from the UPV/EHU and EITB. Since the spring of 2019, 1000 students from the UPV/EHU and the UPNA, between 18 and 25 years old, have made known the contents they see, the communication devices they use and the audiovisual they like.
3 ETB channels have recommended enough more when asking about entertainment and information content. Entertainment: ETB 1 10.6%, ETB 2 15.3% and ETB 3 1.1%. Information: ETB 1 28.4% and ETB 2 32.4%. This coincides with what is mentioned in the report Analysis of the audiovisual television industry, published in 2021 by Barlovento Comunicación. It states that the information is the majority genre in the autonomous state televisions (28.0% of the contents). Entertainment (21.4%), fiction (18.0%), culture (18.0%), competitions (5.3%), sport (5.0%) and music (2.9%) follow.
4 The Euskaraz Screens movement consists of the citizens" initiatives of Disney Euskaraz, Netflix Euskaraz, Zinemak Euskaraz and Game Erauntsia, and the Euskaldunes Duplier Associations Tinko Euskaraz and Bieuse. The aim of the initiative is to increase the presence of the audiovisual media in Basque in the different media and platforms.
Data are obtained from the news published in the newspaper 5 BERRIA https://www.berria .eus/paperekoa/1913/010/001/2022-12-01/euskera -on screens/lauso .htm
6 In the same sense, the data provided by Asier Larrinaga, head of the Basque Service of EITB, in his doctoral thesis on dubbing in Basque [Larrinaga, 2019] are interesting: “However, dubbing in Basque has come to less. On the one hand, there has been a drastic reduction in the bending hours mandated by the Euskal Telebista (M. Aranburu, 2013). In the 1990s, ETB doubled to Euskera 1,800 hours a year. In the mid-1990s, the volume dropped to 1,000 hours a year. Between 2009 and 2012, 450 hours a year were doubled and only 100 hours in 2013. On the other hand, the reduction outside ETB has been proportional. In the early years of dubbing, Euskal Telebista was the only customer, but later others appeared (Larrinaga, 2007b): Basque Government, Film Distributors, Private Companies and San Sebastian Film Festival. Of these, the Government’s Zinema Euskaraz programme is currently: 2014 subsidized the doubling of 4 films and 8 films, i.e. less than 20 hours (Zineuskadi, 2014, b, 2014, c)’.