Monthly Archives: November 2008

Public demonstration to denounce public stealing

The state budget (public money of the Spanish people) is plagued with items destined for subsidies of all kinds. There are public subsidies to finance private economic activities which do not benefit society nor the country as a whole. There are public subsidies for deficitary businesses that cannot stand on their own. There are public subsidies for private film industry productions that insult part of the very society which is paying for those subsidies. There are subsidies financing inefficient energy sources. Public money is also thrown away on car races, paying musicians at town fairs, paying for so-called “art works”, paying for regional politician’s whims, and paying to support politics of repression on part of the population, among many other ways of wasting many people’s efforts to earn their living.

For all of it, a public demonstration will take place this Saturday (Nov 23rd) at Madrid’s Plaza de Col√≥n, to denounce the plundering on the middle class, as reporter Enrique de Diego (organizer of this public demonstration) has called it.

I will be out of Madrid that day, but I encourage everyone to attend the public demonstration.


USA 2008 Election

I haven’t commented much about the election in USA in this blog. Lots has been said about it and about the two main candidates, McCain and Obama. The big news headlines, as always, did not discuss the issues and the actual political programmes of these two gentlemen. Likewise, the main reasons influencing people’s votes are rarely rooted in the actual political agenda. Instead, the campaign itself, the image and the three or four big sounding messages from each candidate are what drives a large number of people to decide their vote.

Polls predict Obama will win. Clearly there’s strong momentum for him to win. Many people prefer a younger candidate versus the older McCain; many like the idea of having a black President of the USA (this is racism), while others won’t vote for a black candidate (racism as well), and most will vote according to their beliefs. And then there’s the message. I acknowledge Obama‘s message sounds very nice. I don’t see that much “change” as people assign to him, but the campaign around it was undoubtedly far more effective than McCain‘s.

A couple of days ago I came across this pro-Obama video. I must say I liked it. However, if you look closely at the content of that video, there’s nothing in its political message that McCain does not endorse. It’s a video full of generic ideas, which almost everyone can agree to. In the video, it’s Obama who sends out that message, so naturally one would relate the message only to him.

Apparently it’s difficult to have an election consisting mostly of debates instead of political rallies and campaigns. I don’t know if the majority of people would be bored out of the election, but I believe that a campaign focused on discussion and debate would be far more beneficial to understand really what each candidate intends to do and how. If that were the case, my impression is that McCain would be leading the polls on this occasion.

This post does not intend to discuss programs in detail, but from what I’ve been able to gather about each candidate’s programs, the republican candidate’s program is the one that would bring more benefit for most people. Obama‘s program is not necessarily bad (I would welcome his plans in Spain over the current Spanish government any minute). However, of the two options running for US President, I am convinced McCain would be the better one for the U.S. and the world.

Let’s wait and see what the U.S. decides tonight.

Spain: DVB-T for nothing

Mass media is the nicest toy for a politician. No better tool exists for mass control of people, regardless of the type of content: news, documentaries, sports, arts, or anything else. Almost any of it can be sprinkled with political messages, and it’s in the interest of politicians to control the mass media market, as much as they can, to convey the political messages and ideologies they want to impose on people.

Some leaders manage to assert complete control minimizing market freedom (only state-owned TV or radio channels exist at a state-wide scale), while others maneuver around market freedom by constraining the reach of given channels to certain areas of territory.

In Spain, the advent of DVB-T (Digital Video Broadcasting – Terrestrial, or TDT by its Spanish name) failed to offer TV consumers more freedom, a wide offer of channels, or an improvement in program quality compared to the existing analog broadcast channel offer. Those enhancements would have been possible, had the technology not been curbed by idiotic Spanish administrative divisions: the dreadful system of autonomous regions.

Before DVB-T, there were 5 nation-wide analog TV channels (2 public state-owned, 3 private). Additionally, each autonomous region (there are 17 of them) had their own official channels as well (one or two). The government in power would control the two state-owned national TV channels, and each regional government would control their own public local channels.

When DVB-T arrived, politicians took care to limit its potential, as it posed a great danger for them. They were committed to permit new, privately-owned, channels to broadcast on DVB-T, but they made sure to limit the number of nation-wide channels to only a few, controlled by the same TV broadcasters already operating analog broadcasts. Other channels would be regional, or even local (city level), which DVB-T licences are managed by each regional government for its own local region.

This means new TV channels need to apply for licenses in 17 different regions if they want to broadcast nationwide, resulting in increased costs for TV operators, and a multiplication of public spending (17 DVB-T licence management offices rather than a single one).

Most importantly, however, the partition of Spain into 17 different broadcast domains allows each regional government to control the type of programming their voters will get on TV. It is simply embarrassing and outrageous to see freedom of programming completely limited and even eliminated for mere political interest.

Recently, the Socialist party in Spain (PSOE) proposed that all public regional TV channels should be broadcast nation-wide. In doing so, they want to achieve that programming in the regional languages (Catalonian, Galician, Basque) can be seen all over Spain. Nothing wrong with TV programming in different languages, but this proposal is limited to public channels, and motivated by a desire by the Socialist party to give more and more attention to the local interests of nationalist and localist regional governments of Catalonia, Galicia and the Basque Country. The PSOE’s proposal is focused on crowd control to expand the ideology of localism, differentiation and exclusion.

Giving a nation-wide reach to local-language (public) TV channels is fine, as long as this part of a plan to unify the broadcasting space in Spain, where regional administrations would have no control over broadcasting licences, and the nation-wide programming offer would include public TV channels, regional (and regional-language) public channels, but also including the wide range of private channels operating in Spain through regional DVB-T licenses.

These private channels have to resort to be distributed over pay services (like Imagenio, Ono, Digital+, Zattoo, and others) to reach a nationwide audience. Naturally, the pay services audience is minimal in comparison with free aerial DVB-T broadcasts. Regional governments take care to deny licenses of aerial DVB-T broadcasting inside their plot of land to unfriendly private media that might show uncontrollable political opinions, thus ridding TV viewers of alternatives to the official doctrine shown constantly on public TV.

Just like video killed the radio star, politicians killed freedom of media, effectively curbing freedom of speech. This is the situation in Spain, and there is no political party in sight willing to change this. Outrageous.