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One of the most famous subjects that came up at the sessions was the introduction process of the DTTV in Spain and the possibilities and advantages that it can bring in the extremely near future. Consequently, both Eladio Gutiérrez, president of IMPULSA TDT, and Antonio Fernández-Paniagua, the general assistant manager of Planning and Management of the Radio-Electrical Space of the Department of Industry, Tourism and Commerce, congratulated one another on the immersion of the DTTV that reaches 30% of the Spanish homes, having won a total screen share of 13% during the whole month of April. At this rate, the DTTV becomes the most famous option among the audience. The numbers will continue going up, placing Spain as the third in Europe. More than that, the representative of the Department wanted to calm down the people who thought that the access rhythm to the DTTV wouldn’t be sufficient so as to reach the whole population before the digital television transition announced for the 3rd of April of 2010. That is why he assured people that the Government would think of a universal plan which would include that every citizen should be able to watch television. Most critical opinions came from both Enrique Bustamante, an Audiovisual Communication professor at the Complutense University of Madrid, and Jean Noel Dibie, professor at Sorbona, Paris, and a French representative of the European public television association EBU-UER. During his intervention, Bustamante demanded a much more important part in the digitalization process than he already had. In the expert’s opinion the whole State was becoming a little more than a State that advertises. But on the contrary, it is the State that must guarantee the transmission of the digital television as a public service; a more diverse and plural television with more quality contents, more accessible to everyone, and the main element for the access to the Society of Information (SI). This last issue was also brought to light by Andrés Armas, Secretary General of IMPULSA TDT, who required the DTTV to become the final step towards including the SI and all those who are still excluded from the matter. It was Bustamante who brought up the problem of the lack of leadership and also expressed his regrets for the lack of independent organizations that could put the sector in order and avoid political benefits and also avoid falling into the practice of obtaining votes through false promises when it comes to sharing the frequencies, especially in the autonomous administrations, which do have the necessary ability. He also questioned the pressure received by the States from the European Union for the speeding up of the general digital television transition without having the guarantee that the process would be attending the diversity and the public nature of the service. As Bustamante sees it, a country that is capable of focusing that technology on a real public service, will build a better democracy regarding quality and a stronger economy. Dibie mentioned almost the same points and required that the public televisions take the leadership mentioned before by Bustamante, and deepen the social and cultural values of its contents, leaving the business aside. Dibie insisted on the fully democratic bet that the DTTV had to become for the western societies and on the fact that to do so, it had to guarantee a variety of quality contents that could be accessible to everyone. While the DTTV finds its place, the certain thing is that the most visible consequence of its establishment in Spain is the release of a high number of free choice programs, which makes their providing with contents, very necessary. The key is checking the type of contents that the televisions count on for developing so as to fill the many hours of broadcasting. Both the public and the private TV operators have made some progress in the production of new and more specialized contents, but overall, the changes happening are being handled with certain doubts and caution. Partially, this would be the result of what Bustamante said about a “vicious circle”. At present it’s a little bit difficult to see the DTTV having interesting contents because it still hasn’t got enough audience so as the TV programs to find it profitable and produce specific contents for the new programs. And due to the fact that for now these new are not offered, the audience doesn’t see the point in going from what they have to DTTV, giving the fact that it has very similar contents with their traditional TV program. The same thing happens with the companies that produce DTTV players with interactive capacity. They are still a bit expensive because of the small number of requests that don’t allow an abundant production and so, a cheaper price. And there are no requests, precisely because there are no contents that can boost the interactivity of the spectators.

 

CONTENTS AND TV OPERATORS

To these difficulties we would have to add the low ratings the TV programs have had lately. Eduardo García Matilla, the president of Multimedia Corporation, explained that at present, the main general TV programs barely reach a 15% of the ratings, while not so long ago it didn’t use to go bellow 25%. Both the ratings and the publicity go down, and so the TV programs must do something about these new challenges. One of the possible solutions is to understand the necessity of offering different contents which have the purpose of attracting a new public and the ability to change among themselves with other digital television distribution platforms, like for example through the mobile phone and the Internet, which are very popular with the young public. These ideas were mentioned by Carmen Bodega, from TVE, who defended the importance of the crossing and convergence of the systems. On his part, Ricard Mateu, the chief of programming of TV3 Digital Programs, acknowledged the fact that the contents presented by the TV programs through DTTV are practically the same. His view was also that the new technologies don’t replace television. They merely complement it. He explained how, for example, TV3 makes the most of its more profitable contents, in terms of economy and ratings, by broadcasting and rebroadcasting them through its different channels and frames. He also thinks that the audience should be the one to claim those quality contents. On the other hand Jorge del Corral, from UTECA, focused his own opinion on criticizing a television market with a vast offer. In his opinion, no amount of publicity is big enough to make the most of those private and public channels. He took advantage of his having said his opinion and mentioned his doubt regarding the format of the Spanish public television, that is financed with public money and part of the advertising money, a fact that for him is unfair. The example that should be taken is the British one, because it’s being financed through a tax given by every citizen. However, he insisted on the importance of the fact that television channels have to make new contents, more personalized contents focusing more on the relationship with the Internet. Students and young artists paid special attention to what Pere Gilbert, from the Xarxa de Televisions Locals of Catalunya, had to say. Gilbert considers that the local television operators are a very important source for the development of the proximity contents in this digital environment. Moreover, his opinion in favor of the quality and not the quantity of the contents and in favor of the promotion of interactive usage and young talent, was very conclusive. With this purpose, through Xarxa, he offered some help and subsidies like, for example, the Incentiva program and the Denominació d’Origen project, which fully helps production companies and young people in the development of local television programs. However, he expressed his disappointment about the fact that the effort he made didn’t have the expected result on the part of the important televisions which want new contents but refuse to invest money in them. The arrival of the DTTV and its new programs gives cinematography a  new series of opportunities in such difficult moments as these. This was said by Gustavo Ferrada, the person in charge of the Movies Department of the TVE, in one of the sessions that was most looked forward to. As such, he confirmed the fact that cinematography has to look for new forms of operation, because at present, televisions have no ways of getting back the investments they make, a fact which places Spanish cinematography in an unstable situation with an unpredictable future. In a situation in which the downloads of movies and fiction series via Internet results in budget cuts of the production companies and television programs, Ferrada considered that, among other things, the sponsorships and interactive applications, could be key elements. Another less popular possibility would be that every citizen paid an amount, no matter how small, for every download that he makes.

 

CONTENTS AND TECHNOLOGY

The sessions also had some moments when the focus was all on the technology applied on the contents. The convergence of web pages and formats becomes a fundamental element in the understanding of the changes suffered by the audiovisual domain. Throughout the sessions we benefitted from the presence of the main characters of the multi program environmental design. The adjustment of the technology to the new user profile seems to be a key process, becoming the most important piece of the new form of business. These were the thoughts of Ignacio Fernández Vega, manager of Imagenio Programming and Contents (Telefónica), and Pablo Oliete, manager of Albertis Telecom. Moreover, Fernández Vega presented the services that his company offers, through channels like Imagenio, Terra TV, and Emoción, and also claimed his role, of a content packer more than a producer. So, Telefónica becomes the ideal associate for the content supplier. On his part, Oliete emphasized the responsibility that the infrastructure operator has in presenting all the users with the advantages of digital television. Public televisions also have a say in the matter. The person responsible for the Digital Television Area and the RTVV Interactive Applications, named Vicente Pla, insisted on the possibilities that the television presents through the IP. That is why he pointed out the necessity to normalize its distribution with a standard format (DVB Home Network). The main idea of its introduction is for the user to be able to enjoy the same contents regardless of the program he uses to access them. And finally, Jordi Mata, from TV3, was a little bit more critical regarding the role of television programs when explaining the additional services offered by the Catalonian public channel through the DTTV. He expressed his regrets especially for the weak points of the interactive services that are now being offered as a consequence of a limited width of tape both of the broadcasting channel, used by the TV operator and of the interactive channel. However, Mata considered that the future must be represented by a hybrid receiver that could offer the possibility of accessing the Internet from the living room TV and which could allow one to download archives and store contents for a subsequent watch. All in all, interactivity seems to be one of the technological elements that result in a high amount of enthusiasm and there are already firms and televisions that are developing this field. A good example of this was represented by the presentation of several pilot projects which contained a mixture of the interactive applications and the audiovisual contents, offering an idea or an image of what the future television could be. José Juan Gutiérrez, from iRTVE, was in charge of the projects that were presented, and he showed the possibilities offered by the interactive digital channel, in favor of the audience which would be able to answer the questions of a game at the same exact time as the contestants on the set. Juan Rosés from Activa Multimédia Digital, offered a project that could improve the electronic administration of the citizens, a project that would come to be the T-Govern (electronic administration through the television). Miguel Alborg, from IDI EIKON, presented a socio-sanitary service project named Seniority. On his part, José Luis Vásquez, from Mirada, decided to focus his time on the consumer’s analysis, because it is actually the consumer who decides which contents are to be consolidated. Jaume Rey, manager of Panasonic Provideo Broadcast in the European division, thinks that The High Definition (HD) is the one creating more reluctance between the producers and the Spanish televisions. Rey thinks that the High Definition is no longer something unique, special and out of the ordinary. That is why he encouraged the Spanish audiovisual sector to make a decisive step towards the contents of this technology, moreover if it’s about contents very much used and looked for, like fiction, documentaries and sports broadcastings. On the other hand, Rey informed of the fact that Spain is very late in adding the HD regarding the whole process of audiovisual creation, fundamentally if referring to USA. and Japan, where there are already channels in cable and satellite format, which broadcast 24 hours a day in HD. In Europe, all the northern countries and also France and the U.K. have been investing and producing in HD since some time ago. He said that the reasons can be found in the stage fright of certain professionals and also in the reluctance of the Spanish broadcasters, which will cause Spain to be one of the few countries that will not be able to broadcast the Olympic Games of Beijing in HD, this summer. For Rey, one of the great advantages of HD productions is the continuing process of improvement of this business, which supposes an exclusive focus of attention on the production of the global market and less or even at all, on the one of the local and national markets. One example would be the Internet content formats like Youtube and others. On this part, the European countries have a great advantage thanks to their cultural heritage. Spain can also be included here, for its potentially global market, thanks to the Spanish language which is spoken by more than 400 millions of people worldwide. During the same session we were also able to enjoy several images of the BBC series, “Planet Earth”, entirely recorded in HD. After having spent all day in airports, director, producer and screenwriter, Mark Linfield, finally arrived to Bristol to tell us the advantages of using this technology. Linfield says that the entire team of the series became HD enthusiasts because it’s about a technology that seems to be a lot like cinematography (with a little less sensibility) but including the good parts of the video, like the versatility and the clearness of the images, especially when recording in outdoor spaces.

 

THE FUTURE CONTENTS: PROPOSSALS OF STUDENTS AND CREATIVE YOUTH

So as to conclude, the First CONTD Sessions were useful for the creative young people and also for the Communication students of the University of Valencia, because it gave them the opportunity to present and defend their projects in front of a group of professionals representing the Valencian and Spanish audiovisual sector. The meeting was a pitching session hosted by Ximo Pérez, president of Trivisión and PAV (Productors Audiovisuals Valencians), which had several participants like, Joan Úbeda from Mediapro, Jordi Hidalgo de RTVV, César Martí from Conta Conta Productions, Francisco José Gutiérrez from RTVE and Emilio Oviedo from Índigo Media. There was a total of 5 projects presented: Fikibug, an Internet fiction series set in the reclamation area of an electrical appliances firm; Slap Village, a humorous animation series set in the Western part of America, presented by Monkey Toons Productions; Sin reservas, a documentary game containing reality, contest and travelling elements; Vidas de película, a documentary show, in which famous movies are used as the background for the explanation of real situations of anonymous characters; and “Enredados”, a comic situation having as a main subject the relationships created between several characters through new technologies. Among the participants there were also 1st and 2nd year students of the Official Master’s Degree in Audiovisual Contents and Formats, and 4th year students from Audiovisual Communication at the Valencia University.

 

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