Read in Catalan

Spain's proposed new General Law of Audiovisual Communication, being prepared by the Spanish government, which leaves Catalan and the other minoritised languages of the state completely unprotected, has prompted a forceful reaction from voices across the independence movement, who have blasted the disdain of the Pedro Sánchez executive for the rich but vulnerable linguistic wealth in Catalonia and elsewhere.

This is because the new bill on audiovisual communication, currently being drafted by the Spanish government forces the major streaming platforms to offer an ample catalogue in the Castilian language - Spanish - but, on the other hand, does not offer any protection for the other languages ​​of the Spanish state that are in a more disadvantaged position, one of which is Catalan.

Where the bill stipulates a quota is in European content, set at 30%, a level which comes from EU guidelines. But of this 30%, in the proposed Spanish law, half must be "productions in Spanish or other state languages". In other words, the platforms will be able to choose, without making any distinction between Spanish and Catalan, Basque and Galician. Thus, the far larger potential audience for works in Spanish - and the fact that almost speakers of the other three languages are also bilingual in Spanish - makes it likely that only a tiny percentage of works will be offered in the distinct languages of Catalonia, Euskadi and Galicia. Madrid has completely ignored the demands of the Generalitat for special protection and investment guarantees for the Catalan language.

Independence movement reacts

The major pro-independence ONGs, Òmnium Cultural and the Catalan National Assembly (ANC), have already harshly criticized the draft. Òmnium calls it a "new attack on Catalan". "The law that the Spanish government is preparing is a new attack on Catalan. We are sick of having our language discriminated against! Catalan society will not cease, at Òmnium we are already forming a common front and actions for audiovisual content in Catalan!" alerted the group headed by Jordi Cuixart, via a tweet.

The ANC vice president, David Fernàndez, also made reference to the proposed law, focusing on the issue of having sovereign control of one's own country or not. "Having sovereignty, or not having it... and (being) in free fall. Dialogue versus unilaterality," he tweeted, also referring to the dialogue table that met last week.

From the governing ERC party, the deputy Raquel Sànchez responded via Twitter that "Catalan is inviolable". "It is a reason for being, it is social cohesion. It is equality of opportunity. And it is our obligation to guarantee its professional and social protection. Also in the audiovisual sphere. The new Spanish law wants the opposite. We oppose it," she added.

The general secretary of Junts, Jordi Sànchez, ironically noted that this law is "their proposal for the re-encounter and their way of recognizing the Catalan language and culture". He therefore urged the passing of a decree law focused on this area by the Catalan government "to safeguard the Catalan language in the audiovisual sector".


Main image: A television with different streaming platforms / Photo: Nicolas J Leclercq (Unsplash)