Xavi Mujal, general director of Ràdio i Televisió d’Andorra (RTVA) spoke with all-andorra.com about information policy, freedom of expression and the organization of broadcasting in Andorra:
Interview : Irina Rybalchenko
What is RTVA today?
RTVA – it’s the only TV and radio company that talks about Andorra. 90% of RTVA’s budget comes from public money (so it is the government who finances us). The other 10% come to us through the commercial department, it’s advertising.
Currently, we only produce news. We are not engaged in the production of films about sport or cultural events, we do not have the technology to do this at the moment. When analog television existed we did it, but like all other public media stations, we had to adapt to the crisis.
How many people work at RTVA today?
Currently, we are a team of 70 people. Before, there were 130 of us. But the budget decreased 5 years ago.
Among these 70 people, there are 25 journalists. They are also cameramen. For me, the concept of television journalism also includes the ability to manipulate the camera. And vice versa, if the cameramen record a subject, they have to be able to explain what their story is about.
How do you plan to develop RTVA?
RTVA must evolve at a technological level to have better ways to work. It is expensive but it is what allows us to progress. The analog era is in the past, now we’re living in a 100% digital one. This is the most important part of all media – the transformation to the internet world. That’s what allows us to move forward.
What types of cameras do you use?
In general, we work with SONY digital. Our target is to work 100% in digital. For TVs from the outside it’s simple, but in our case, it will happen only in 2-3 years.
How many programs are there now?
Before we had a lot of different programs, but now we have decided to focus on the news. However, every Monday, we have a program on sport; every Thursday – a program on politics and every Friday – a program on societal issues.
In addition, National Radio Andorra has different programs on political or economic topics, but not every day.
As a public company, financed by the government, can you criticize the government?
Yes, our information can be contrary to the interests of the government.
So, in Andorra, freedom of expression does exist?
Yes. I’m the director, I don’t ask questions. I only control journalists to be sure that what they say is true.
Do you have any special correspondents working in other countries, for example, in neighboring Spain or France?
We are a very special country because we are very small. Twenty years ago, there were very few TV channels available in Andorra: TV3, Antenne 2, France 3. Now, there are 180 channels available in Andorra. To know what is happening in the world, Andorran citizens have the opportunity to choose international TV channels. So, it is not necessary to have external correspondents.
Our goal is to tell our citizens what is happening in Andorra, or about Andorrans, for example, athletes, participants of international competitions.
And it’s always in Catalan?
Yes, Catalan is the official language of Andorra. As a co-official language, we have programs in French – on radio and television, thanks to our agreement with France 24. Every day, we have the information from 18:30 to 19:00 by France 24. We translate it into French and Spanish.
During the Olympic Games in South Korea, RTVA journalists worked on site. Do you often send your correspondents to other countries?
To cover the Olympics, we had to buy “sports rights”. Otherwise, it’s impossible to follow from the outside. The other channels do not talk about Andorran athletes, that’s obvious. So we sent our journalists to inform us about the Andorran athletes’ results. It was the same in Sochi, for example, and we will do the same in Japan. It’s expensive but it’s money that has been well invested.
There is no economic profit. But the citizens of Andorra could get information on their own televisions – this is a question of our status. Our object is not to make money, but it’s at least not to lose it. We have no debts, although some time ago RTVA accumulated many debts that were paid by the government. It’s been three years since the debts are at zero.
Who are your main advertisers?
Banks, shopping centers, and ski event organizers (Freeride World Tour, for example). Companies do not change much, they are stable.
I do not like advertising. In my perfect model of public television, it’s 0% advertising. But we need it and 10% is not bad. That way we do our job well.
How much does it cost to advertise on RTVA?
We have a package of services – Radio, TV and our website. 20 seconds on TV is about 140 euros – just the TV. But we do not sell seconds – 6 spots of 20 seconds, it’s nothing. Normally, we sell the advertising package on radio, TV and the website.
Have any journalists ever been prosecuted for misrepresentation or misinterpretation? What is the consequence of such actions?
Not often. There have been people who were accused and wanted to go to court, but usually what the justice department offers are acts of reconciliation. So people tend to go directly to the media to talk and ask for a correction, therefore the majority of conflicts are resolved without resort to legal action.
Is Andorran legislation on the rights of journalists in line with EU standards?
I am sure that journalists in Andorra are as well protected as journalists from other European countries. Professional secrecy is respected here, it’s very important. Andorran journalists can work in freedom.
What types of laws protect and regulate freedom of expression in Andorra?
There is no specific law to protect journalists. There is legislation that ensures the right to have a professional sector. This exists for doctors, lawyers and economists too. I repeat: journalists in Andorra can work in freedom.
As a journalist do you know who controls the other media in Andorra?
All newspapers in the country are private. I do not really know all the owners of newspapers. But as far as I know, there is no bank that controls the media in Andorra.