Television


Television
   In the beginning, film and television were considered natural rivals, competing for the audience's leisure time. Television only became a mass phenomenon in Spain during the 1960s, and it took longer than in the rest of Europe to be a cause of concern for film producers. At that time, and until 1982, there was only one company, Televisión Española, which was under the direct authority of the government. There was also one channel, and its broadcasting schedules were very restricted. Even when an alternative channel was introduced, it took until the early 1970s before the choice was available to a majority of Spanish audiences. Spanish TV produced some dramatic programs (largely filmed plays), but provided no real alternative to cinema. In the late 1960s, television started to show films regularly. The competition this represented was counterbalanced by the fees charged in order to broadcast films. At the same time (and maybe for this reason), the number of cinemas in Spain remained high until the 1980s.
   But by the mid-1970s, there were obvious signs of a serious crisis in the film industry. In reality, the crisis had always been there, but in this case it was combined with more alternatives and with politically troubled times. The disappearance of censorship brought deep changes in the structure of the film industry and a number of measures to protect Spanish films. When Pilar Miró became General Director for Cinema, she introduced a series of measures that, on the one hand, would encourage more quality. On the other, she tried to transform the (by then) perceived rivalry between television and the film industry into a collaboration. But in the 1960s, it seemed as if cinema was "giving" and television was "receiving," as funding was channeled into a different direction. Television started to produce series based on literary adaptations that gave employment to many professionals in the film industry.
   Also, throughout the 1980s, legislation allowed for a proliferation of television companies. As the decade progressed, it became clear that television was increasingly funding a great share of the films projected in cinemas: television companies put money into film projects to ensure broadcast rights.
   In recent times, the film industry has become totally reliant on television funding: very few films with a substantial budget do not seek the assistance of Tele 5, Antena 3, TV3, or media conglomerates like PRISA. Although not necessarily a bad thing, it remains to be seen how long these companies will continue to fund such an unreliable, expensive business when they can produce their own popular products much more cheaply and easily.
   On a more positive note, the boom in television drama and sitcoms has in recent years provided many opportunities for actors and other professionals who can strengthen their training with secure work. Actors like Paz Vega, Javier Cámara, Carmen Machi, and Fernando Tejero cemented their reputations in televisión. Others have traveled the path in the opposite direction: Imanol Arias and Antonio Resines have developed solid television careers when film parts were scarce.

Historical dictionary of Spanish cinema. . 2010.

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