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The Radio in Spain: European Appearance, Franco’s Legacy

A study on the evolution of the private radio industry in Spain from Franco’s dictatorship to the present reveals that as an industry and a system its transformation has been only formal, without  affecting latent structures, and therefore problems still remain. This is the case of clientelistic relationships, characteristic of public and private radio, which erode the essence of journalism and affect public opinion and the pluralism of opinions.

This article is the result of the experience gained by the authors in the study of radio as a cultural industry, both in the public and private sector. Luis Arboledas is associated lecturer in the Facultad de Comunicación y Documentación at the Universidad de Granada. PhD in audiovisual communication, his main research subjects are radio industry, communication policies, media system, local communication and journalistic profession. Montse Bonet es tenured lecturer in the Departament de Comunicació Audiovisual i Publicitat, Facultat de Ciències de la Comunicació at the Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona. Her main research subjects are cultural industries (specially radio industry), communication policies, digitalisation, audiovisual public service.
The main objective of this work is to analyze the evolution of the Spanish private radio industry, from the Franco dictatorship to the present, and its clientelistic base and political manipulation (both characteristics usually associated only to the public sector). To demonstrate this, the authors begin by recalling the main theories and studies about what clientelism is, especially historically and politically. The article also reviews what political culture is and the relationship between democracy and media; all of them are very topical issues and applicable not only to the radio but any other means. What happens is that radio and television have always been, not only in Spain, two very regulated and controlled media.
After this introduction, where authors try to make these concepts clear and numerous references for those who may be interested are offered, the article goes on to focus on the Spanish private radio and its historical evolution from the perspective of clientelism and its relationship to power.
Indeed, one of the conclusions is that the transformation of the Spanish private radio, as an industry, as a system, has been purely formal and political changes have not affected the latent structures. That is, even though obviously the passage from a dictatorship to a democracy ocurred and people noticed it, a number of problems are still present since a thorough reform of the radio sector was not made, from scratch (and the same could be said for the TV).
Another key finding is that clientelistic relations affect the quality of a democracy because it erodes the very essence of journalism, affecting at the same time the creation of a public opinion or the pluralism of views. It is therefore important that the media can develop in freedom.

Montse Bonet Bagant


Arboledas, Luis; Bonet, Montse. The Radio in Spain: European Appearance, Franco’s Legacy. Javnost- he Public 21(4): 67-82. 2014.

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