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Back to TV Pública: gastar menos

Eduardo Martínez Abascal, Professor, IESE, University of Navarra

Public TV: spending less

Wed, 03 Mar 2010 08:37:25 +0000 Published in Expansion (Madrid)

In 2007, the last year of the economic boom, state television (TVE1 and TVE2) cost the taxpayer some 280 million euros (sum of losses plus subsidies received). The regional TV stations cost us almost 1,300 million. In total, more than 1,500 million Euros. On the other hand, private television stations had a profit before taxes of more than 700 million (report Deloitte on public and private TV). How is it possible that private television earns 700 million and public television loses 1,500 million? Once again, the public sector proves to be very, very inefficient. This deficit is paid by the suffering Spanish taxpayer who, let's remember, earns on average 1,200- 1,400 euros per month and pays to the State another 1,100-1,200 euros/month. The data for 2008 have been very similar, about 1,500 million losses for the Spanish taxpayer.

The screen share of state TV was 22%, regional TV had 15% and private TV had the remaining 63% (report CMT 2009). It turns out, then, that public TV spends much more and has less screen share: it spends more, but likes less. The question is inevitable: how is it possible that the Government (State and autonomous communities) spends (with my money) 1,500 million and only has a 37% share of the screen? Why do I have to pay that huge amount of money on a topic that does not seem to be very appreciated? Are there not other more efficient uses for that money?

Within public TV, it can be seen, once again, that the regional channels are more expensive than the state broadcasters (losses of 1,300 million versus 280 million) and, in addition, have less screen share. In other words, the autonomous channels are even more inefficient than the state broadcasters. I understand that some of them barely have a market to sell their product. Okay, but maybe we are not rich enough to afford 20 public TV channels. We simply do not have the money to pay for this.

Finally, state TV began a cost reduction plan in 2007. The regional ones have not yet done so. Please, start doing it. And also the State condoned a debt of almost 8,000 million to TVE. This debt is now paid by all Spaniards (once again). Please, do not let the autonomous regions do the same.

My conclusion: we must reduce public expense seriously and in many areas. It is necessary to spend efficiently. And within this goal, the biggest effort should be made by the autonomous regions. Where to start reducing expense public? No problem, there are many possibilities. Here I mention one of them, the autonomic television stations.