Audio-visual production in Brittany, Galicia and Wales
- Published in Society and Community Issues
"Television and Interculturalism in Brittany, Galicia, and Wales", a 87-page report made by a team of Breton, Galician, and Welsh researchers surveys the state of audio-visual production and broadcasting in each of the languages of these countries.
A joint research project by Breton, Galician and Welsh universities
Television and Interculturalism in Brittany, Galicia, and Wales was born out of the Congress of Communication in the Atlantic Periphery in Santiago de Compostela, 7-10 November 1995, and later materialised into the first joint project by the universities of Haute Bretagne-Rennes 2, Wales Aberystwyth and Santiago de Compostela. The project also involved national public organisations from Brittany, Galicia and Wales.
The 87-page report has surveyed the state of audio-visual production, distribution and broadcasting in each of the languages of these countries, seen from the different systems of public television and the priorities given to identity goals at each society, the latter being language in Wales, an own public television in Brittany, and independent mediatic authorities in Galicia.
Television and Interculturalism in Brittany, Galicia, and Wales is the most representative of existing studies that allows for conclusions and recommendations in line with the principles of European audiovisual policies. The report enters into a deep quantitative analysis of the audio-visual sector, addressing the financial and business aspects, the evolution of production and employment, the importance of training and the prospects for distribution. The core goal of each case study -Breton, Galician or Welsh- is to describe within information science the evolution of the sector along a three-year period, with an outlook for the overall prospects in the European Union.
The report has also encountered some limitations that need to be addressed, such us the excessive dependency on subsidies and public institutions and a low level of professionalism, especially in the field of promotion, co-production and marketing in general. The detailed study in each case, the problems there presented and the need to deepen into anything that may relate to broadcasting and training all derive from comparative analysis.
Consistencies and differences across Brittany, Galicia, and Wales
There are many consistencies across the three countries: similar populations -between 2.5 and 3 million inhabitants- common aspects in folklore and morphology, as well as in their subsidiary role to hegemonic classes and social groups issuing from centralised power. Furthermore, the imagery and memory from which the difference is construed, sometimes referred to as 'celticism', bring together in these three countries the ideas of freedom and otherness, essential to interculturalism. Mixed, nomadic, maritime cultures are those of Brittany, Galicia, and Wales.
Public television is, in the three cases studied, the driving force for audio-visual production. Nevertheless, despite those analogies at cultural and political levels, and especially in what refers to goals, the tradition is in each case a different one, both in quantitative terms (amount of product, jobs and business volume) and in the circulation and nature of such products. First, there is the difference in timing for the progress from a monopolistic state-type television system towards a mixed, commercial system, that took place in Brittany and Galicia less than a decade ago, as opposed to the four decades of experience in the UK. Secondly, Breton decision-making is lacking in Brittany's case, where there are no competencies in mass media and thus no autonomous public television. The legal framework, in the case of Galicia, is the Statute of Galicia and for Wales the subsequent Broadcasting Acts.
Grossly speaking, informative pieces (including news and documentaries) are feeding the sector in all cases. Fiction is the dominant production genre for Wales, where most of S4C's investment during 1996 went into Drama. The Welsh model stands out as the immediate priority for the field of production: let us remember the nomination to an Academy Award for best foreign language film in 1994 given to Hedd Wyn, and to the animated film Famous Fred in 1998. In Galicia, the offer in documentaries and fiction for television is quite balanced. In the Breton case, there is practically no production in Breton language. This all leads us to believe that future actions shall depend ever more on nationalitarian policies, such as those that define the Galician and Welsh cases, than on the endogenous capacity of the sector in itself.
It is difficult, though, to establish comparisons amongst the degree of visibility that any such productions may enjoy abroad. The Breton and Galician cases are similar, having sold around 10 hours between 1994-1997. The Welsh case, however, stands out both as regards co-production schemes -with French (La Cinquieme), Irish (RTE), Canadian and American companies, and through the network that sells in over fifty countries on different support media. An indicator of this is the fact that the children's series Super Ted became the first European animation to be broadcasted by the Disney Cable Channel.
The Welsh case is the best
Besides the differences in business culture of the public broadcasters that served as a model, influencing for the better in the case of BBC over S4C, and negatively in the case of TVG's protective TVE-based model, the Welsh case is the best in order to locate the emergence of an audio-visual industry around the origin of S4C itself. It is defined as a broadcaster, and the contents arrive there in Welsh language but supplied by the BBC itself as well as by ITV and other independent companies that arose due to the emerging demands of the Welsh channel.
In its turn, should TVG have not been designed as a protector, not only broadcaster company, it may never have come to exist, as the sector was lacking that was required beforehand as a support, and also due to the fact that the Spanish public television was not willing to co-operate in producing programmes in Galician language. Since the separation of public and private media are something very recent in both Spain and France, it has only been in the last few years that the sector has achieved sufficient significance in order to become the object of a study such as this one.
The language and the national imagery as a value towards change, a growing audio-visual sector, community directives favouring digital compression, etc... all point towards the Welsh case as the one where the awareness soon developed of Identity as a part of a commercial asset, both in the domestic market as well as abroad.
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Television and Interculturalism in Brittany, Galicia and Wales