RTP RiP? – Portugal’s TV market will lack diversity

The Portuguese government will sell the TV license of RTP 2. This information was published this Saturday by the Portuguese weekly “Expresso”.

According to the newspaper, there is little doubt, even within RTP, that this privatization process will take place.

The license will be sold in a tender that the government plans to launch later this year.

RTP historic ( (c) wikicommons)

Rádio e Televisão de Portugal, commonly known as RTP, is Portugal’s public service broadcasting organization. It operates four terrestrial television channels and three national radio channels. RTP is a state-owned corporation funded by television advertising revenues, government grants and a broadcasting contribution tax, which is incorporated in electricity bills. RTP’s first TV channel was established in 1956. 1968 saw the opening of a second television channel, RTP2. Two new regional channels were created in 1972, serving the Portuguese archipelagos of Madeira and Azores.

For those who are not familiar with the Portuguese TV landscape, the news of RTP 2’s closure is indeed somewhat of a scandal. Academics and filmmakers are horrified. As a filmmaker put it: “It’s the only channel where people can learn who Marilyn Monroe was”. RTP 2 is specialised in classical movies, documentaries, political debates and cultural programming.

According to “Expresso”, there will only be one public service TV channel from January 2013 onwwards and its programming will be very close to the existing one of RTP 1, thus not incorporating cultural programming. There has not been an official declaration to RTP from the Government yet. But sources say that the planning for the 2013 programming of RTP 2 is taking place at a minimal level and basically no content is being purchased or produced.

According to the news agency Lusa, the Boston Consulting Group will be responsible for the “strategic thinking of the public service media and for the strategic vision of the new RTP”.

For those who don’t have access to cable TV, this means a great loss of pluralism in the TV landscape. RTP 1 has changed its content in the past years, making it all too similiar of that of the private channels called TVi and SIC.

All of the three feature mainly game shows, reality shows, soap operas and Hollywood blockbusters. This is surely not the pluralistic access to relevant information for an electorate in a democratic country of the European Union one can wish for. Let’s be optimistic that “Expresso” was wrong in saying that the new RTP 1 will remain very similar to the current one and let’s hope to see at leat some of the political and cultural programming in the new channel.

Author: Josephine Landertinger Forero

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