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Religions and the media

The Catholic Church, a near-monopoly on religious broadcasting

Since Spain’s transition to a secular democracy based on the notion of convivencia (co-existence), the issue of the presence of other religions besides Catholicism in public life has emerged. It (...)

Since Spain’s transition to a secular democracy based on the notion of convivencia (co-existence), the issue of the presence of other religions besides Catholicism in public life has emerged. It is particularly serious in the media where the Catholic Church through its leaders, occupies a near exclusive position.
And yet, secularism implies equal treatment of all religions. In the case of Spain however, there is still a general belief that since the Catholic faith enjoys the allegiance of the majority of the country, it should have greater prominence in public life and the media.
What this means in practice is that the Church has an exclusive presence which gives it - and it alone - the public means of expression on issues which may potentially conflict with religious values like abortion, divorce, euthanasia, cloning research, etc. Considerable space is accorded in the major media to the opinions of the Church authorities, whose presence is pronounced in discussion forums and interviews. The same cannot be said for other religions.
These other religions are mostly mentioned when their positions appear to conflict with the Spanish legal system, as in the case of the radical imams. This situation contributes in perpetuating the image of religions not fully integrated with society, which hold radical views, or at least views not shared by the general public.
As for national television, the Catholic Church gets to air some of its own programmes, an opportunity not enjoyed by other faiths. Thus, on Sunday mornings, the second national station (TVE2) transmits live church services which take place in a different place each time. These live transmissions are followed by the programme "Pueblo de Dios" (people of God) which features news stories on different religious themes and also makes room for other faiths – but only Christian – to air their views.
During Catholic festivals, particularly Christmas and the Holy Week, all media stations reserve programme slots for the celebration of these festivals. In the case of the Holy Week, huge coverage is given to the processions and other events taking place in several different towns. This is particularly the case for the local channels where the entire airtime is devoted to celebrating the passion of the Christ. The same thing happens during the celebrations linked to the patron saint of their locality.
In the days that followed the death of Pope John Paul II, newspapers, radio and television stations gave massive coverage to this event. The State television thus devoted its entire broadcast of 2 April 2005 to the pontificate of John Paul II for 24 hours non-stop. The election of Cardinal Ratzinger also enjoyed the same interest. There were several feature stories, discussions and special programmes analysing the events, with the analysis quite often lacking critical detachment.

D 14 September 2012    AFernando Bravo López

The Catholic Church’s overwhelming presence in the media

This situation characterises the major media, i.e. television, but is also the case for the national-based radio or print media. The only place minority faiths can air their views is on local TV (...)

This situation characterises the major media, i.e. television, but is also the case for the national-based radio or print media.
The only place minority faiths can air their views is on local TV or radio programmes (see below). However, so far, only the Christian faiths have access to these programmes. The Muslim faith is thus totally absent in the media.
An assumption can be made in this instance. There is widespread use of satellite TV by Muslim families, thus providing them access to television stations in their home countries or the Muslim world. As a result, the need to set up Muslim stations in Spain is perhaps, yet to be felt.

D 14 September 2012    AFernando Bravo López

An evolution – the Internet option

It is important to point out the emergence of several Islamic websites in Castilian, targeted at the Muslims in Spain. These websites are currently the only Islamic media in Castilian. The (...)

It is important to point out the emergence of several Islamic websites in Castilian, targeted at the Muslims in Spain. These websites are currently the only Islamic media in Castilian. The internet is also greatly used by other religions – Catholicism (with secular movements and associations of the faithful playing a major role), as well as the Reformed faiths.
The Jewish faith is without doubt the most poorly represented on the Web. This is compensated by the strong online presence of Jewish communities from South America, primarily Argentina.
The Catholic Church is therefore practically the only faith represented in the traditional media, public media included. Other religions find opportunities at the local level, or on the Internet.

D 14 September 2012    AFernando Bravo López

Local programmes and religion

The last few years have witnessed a real revolution, and a development hitherto unknown in the world of local TV. We should emphasise in particular, the emergence of faith channels - Roman (...)

The last few years have witnessed a real revolution, and a development hitherto unknown in the world of local TV. We should emphasise in particular, the emergence of faith channels - Roman Catholic, but also Evangelical - whose programmes are predominantly of the religious variety. These channels are used as instruments for spreading religious messages and moral teachings. "Discussions" held on topical issues only express the views of the religion in question.
Some of these TV channels are of fundamentalist nature, similar to the style of American televangelists. The channels regularly feature believers who, under the guidance of the preachers, assert their faith by declaring their millenarian vision of the world.
Similarly, over the last decade, a large number of radio stations have emerged. A large number are underground stations, and most enjoy the support of an ever-growing Latin American immigrant community, among whom the Evangelical faiths enjoy a huge following. Many of the preachers on these channels are of South American origin.
There are also local, but less influential Catholic stations. On the other hand, no evidence has been established of the existence of any Islamic-leaning station.

D 14 September 2012    AFernando Bravo López

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