114 | 29, pp. 113-137 | doxa.comunicación

July-December of 2019

Agenda and media pluralism in Al Rojo Vivo and Las Mañanas de Cuatro

ISSN: 1696-019X / e-ISSN: 2386-3978

1. Introduction to the issues dealt with and hypothesis

Despite the advent and consolidation of a hybrid media ecosystem in which the digital world is expanding both quantitatively and in terms of influence, television continues to be the mass media par excellence, and is that which records the highest audience ratings. Also regarding political communication, current affairs and election periods. Political talk shows, in particular, not only enjoy great followings, but have been experiencing a boom in recent years and register record viewers in the weeks that were studied (from 17th October to 22nd November, 2017). Thus, the high audience ratings of these political talk shows and the frequent appearance of political leaders in them, contribute great value to the importance of daily political debates. The academy picked up on this phenomenon in earlier years (for example, linking its development towards hybridization with reality show and celebrity/gossip news formats -Palao Errando and Garcia Catalán, 2011-). Pastor Francisco (2015) compared two political programmes broadcast on a Saturday night: Un Tiempo Nuevo (Cuatro) and La Sexta Noche (La Sexta). Although the former introduced a greater number of topics considered as soft (such as society or culture), important similarities were found insofar as “TV Programming blocks with doses of info-entertainment, based on current affairs and focused on dialogic genres, with the professional profile of the participants based on the figure of the journalist whose arguments are predominantly tend towards disqualifications and personal accusations” (2015: 27).

The purpose of this research is to gather information about the conditions in which two important political television talk shows in Spain are developed: the selection of topics and the media pluralism which unfolds in them. Just as introduced, and although coexisting with many other media (and some of them in permanent growth), television continues to be in the XXI century the main instrument for political information, as is shown repeatedly by the indicators, projects for example like that of Vaccari (2013) for global context and the post-electoral studies of the Sociological Research Centre for the Spanish arena.

One reason of interest in choosing La Sexta and Cuatro for the purpose of this article is that they are the two channels which are the most left-wing among mainstream television (both in general perception and in the GIPEyOP/Mediaflows survey on Media and Communicators, with 5414 valid responses and work in the field up to 04/01/20171), which may provide significant indications of the wide range of speech displayed in the current Spanish media system. Respondents placed La Sexta at 2.9 and Cuatro at 4.1, with 0 being the left and 10 the right. The host of Al Rojo Vivo, Antonio Garcia Ferreras, appeared in the survey and was placed with a 2.8 average in this variable. In addition to Al Rojo Vivo (La Sexta), the other talk show programme analysed is Las Mañanas de Cuatro (which, although also obtaining ratings well above those of its channel, was cancelled about 7 months later).

That the two programmes analysed correspond to the two major media groups gives added significance to the contributions, thus giving us a better idea of the wide spectrum of opinions existing at the end of 2017 on Spanish television. In the distinction between external and internal pluralism, this situation corresponds to the first type, while the focus of the article is, in any case, internal media pluralism developed in both reference programmes and their agenda

1 https://www.uv.es/pavia/Informe_Encuesta_Medios.pdf