The boom of digital television has to be relativized because in Latin America is starting in some places. The states should have a policy of promoting DTT in the region.
Luis Fernando Gutiérrez
Luis Jorge Orcasitas
With the swift and abundant changes that television has undergone in the last two decades, several Latin American countries have embarked on a dynamic, but no less complex, career in order to devise and develop innovative and sometimes audacious strategies with the objective Diversify their audiovisual industries; Hence, that some state initiatives are intended to generate new contributions to cultural industries, especially in the field of film and television, evidently in a context of semiindustrialization but sufficiently capable of attracting audiences and users of local and regional markets , Not in vain attempt to compete against the "heavyweights" of the industry, but to generate a productive, alternative and competent circle.
Therefore, in this edition Dr. Leonardo González, a professor and researcher at the National University of La Plata, explains in detail the situation of the audiovisual sector in Argentina, based on the proposal of the Audiovisual Poles undertaken under the mandate of President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner, also what the contributions of the third sector have meant, media convergence, the role of the academy and, of course, the necessary changes that must be faced in times of phenomena such as Netflix, Amazon and YouTube.
In terms of decentralization and democratization of television in Argentina, what have been the results of the Audiovisual Poles in the context of the Argentine system of Open Digital Television?
Leonardo González: In principle, for me it is important to point out that in the last government of President Cristina Fernandez, a law on Audiovisual Communication Services was approved (that's the name), a basically anti-monopoly law that, in a way Very broadly, distributes the spectrum of audiovisual media in an 33% to each of these sectors: the private sector one 33%, the third sector one 33% and the State another 33%. The Audiovisual Poles, along with other promotion policies, which they achieve as a result is the accumulation of audiovisual production to be put on the air in different media created under the new law.
In this system, what types of creative development and outstanding proposals have been generated from different regions?
Leonardo González: There is one important thing of the Polos and the Audiovisual Bank of Contenidos Universales Argentino, BACUA, which are federal proposals against an absolutely centralist television for its history, for its creation, because Argentina is a very centralist country in its policies, is that The creation of absolutely federal proposals, that is to say, from the Patagonia to the north, through the center and all the regions of Argentina, are expressed in a new format that what it does is to strengthen the regional identity, the national identity and by To put a little clarity in a place that, as the market only commanded, the only thing that appeared was what came out of the city of Buenos Aires.
What role has the third sector played in the field of new television developments in Argentina?
Leonardo González: It gave a very important place to the third sector, I speak of that 33%, (it should be clarified that this law was later discharged by a presidential decree of the new government). In fact, today in Argentina in the system of DTT, television channels linked to Catholic points, guilds or Non-Governmental Organizations; This always seemed like alternative communication, the new law gives a place that visibilizes, institutionalizes and gives a percentage within this.
What are the contributions of the third sector in audiovisual production and creation?
Leonardo González: There the contributions are key even to rethink the models of products that are made. Again, models that are always linked to the market and the laws of the market, let us say today, new formats appear, in that sense, the experiences of the university channels of the national universities (remember that there are more than fifty national universities), of which I I think (this would have to be checked) there must be some 18 or 20 college channels that are already on the air. Obviously, in the case, for example, in the city of La Plata, anyone who has DTT can already watch the Tv-University channel, something that did not happen before. In that sense, the third sector, the universities, the guilds and the ONGS manage to put, even, a new agenda. An agenda that, many times, the private hegemonic means do not think. Other themes. Another new agenda of topics.
According to the public perception of the television that is generated in the Audiovisual Poles and also generated by the third sector agencies, is it feasible the participation of these entities in favor of a DTT of public service and quality?
Leonardo González: Yes, of course it is viable; Should be feasible. Now, in relation to the perception that the public has, there would be talk of hearings and audiences often need time to process new formats and I believe that in that sense the audience is prepared to see new formats, not because they fail to see the Match of Champions League that is transmitted live with super cameras a private channel, but the audiences are aware that there is a new format.
After the boom in DTT and its innovative contributions to the audiovisual sector, what is the reaction of the media to the phenomenon of convergence?
Leonardo González: The digital television boom, even in some term, relativize it because in Latin America is starting in some places. I reiterate, in countries like Latin America, where cable penetration is so strong, DTT has a competitor there because we do not forget that those people who pay to watch the cable (and pay a lot), when you turn on the television has approximately 100 channels. The DTT is revolutionary because it happens to offer the five channels when one has a common antenna, more than 30: in that it is revolutionary. But states should have a development policy.
What could this development policy be?
Leonardo González: During a time in Argentina the equipment that allowed the installation of DTT was distributed. They were distributed to retirees and pensioners who charged the minimum or vulnerable families. Well that could be a policy of support and promotion to television.
And with respect to convergence, has it occurred? Is there evolution?
Leonardo González: I think that at the moment it is a little stuck, but I also think that the interests of the big media corporations are there, which obviously would not have a problem in some countries in sustaining DTT if they are going to stay for them, and Is a little what has happened in the case of the Spanish model, that is, the DTT channels were distributed among the owners of the channels before; Then there is a power struggle there.
Phenomena such as Netflix, Amazon, among others, seek to attract audiences to platforms other than television. What should traditional television do not lose its audience against the new proposals as described above?
Leonardo González: I think that the programmers of traditional television, and what we can call generalist television, these days must be breaking their heads to think what they do because there is a place where generalist television, really, is closer to the Viewer: from a more conservative, more historical viewer, including our case, people of 40 years, but that the generalist and traditional television moves away from this youth that manages other forms of television. I think that's a challenge that has open television because it is clear, in Argentina we see, that traditional open television has lost 10 rating points. Those 10 rating points where are they? I think they are on Netflix, Amazon and these new formats.
Should traditional televisions converge in order not to disappear?
Leonardo González: Of course. It is a little what we were saying before; Traditional TVs have to think about new formats, new ways to reach the public. I still would not risk saying that television is going to disappear, which is what we heard 20 years ago about newspapers in paper. I do not think so, I would not risk that. There is still a large audience that prefers the evening news, telenovela, big show or programs such as Big Brother or Master Chef and these formats worldwide on open television. Still I would not declare the death of the television open, yes that is in crisis: this is seeing the producers and the programmers.
What kind of research should the academy address in the midst of an increasingly itinerant and constantly evolving technical and creative context? What is your role?
Leonardo González: Going over a traditional Wolton text on television that says something like the academy was never too interested in thinking or writing or researching on television because it appeared as something minor (television), says Dominique Wolton that elites have despised mass culture And within that culture comes the television. I believe that communication careers, journalism schools, must have research groups that follow these processes. On the one hand the processes of the audiences, on the other hand the processes of the contents, and also the processes of the laws, of the new technologies. I would separate it, then, in audiovisual contents, audiences and policies.
What is the role of the public and its contribution to the whole issue of diversification and audiovisual creation, and as an alternative to the big media in the entertainment industry?
Leonardo González: In fact I think that public television is fundamental. Today's public television gives way to what private television does not give. When everything in private television is related to rating, advertising and money entry, public television is lucky, in that sense, not to depend on it. Public television should account for that: of what does not appear on private television, because private television relegates or invisibilizes.
* Leonardo González holds a degree and a PhD in Communication. Secretary General of the National University of La Plata. Director of the Center for Research and Development in Communication, Cultural Industries and Television (CeID-TV)