Spain's obsession with celebrity under fire

18th November 2004, Comments 0 comments

18 November 2004, MADRID- Spain's tabloid press has run into a storm of criticism, all the way up to Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero, over the intrusive use of the long lens and the probing prose.

18 November 2004

MADRID- Spain's tabloid press has run into a storm of criticism, all the way up to Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero, over the intrusive use of the long lens and the probing prose.

Readers interested in 'celebrity' lifestyles have around a dozen magazines to choose from, led by Hola, and two new arrivals have swelled their ranks in recent months.

The six most popular magazines reach a total of 11,635 million readers a week, far outstripping the popularity of the news-based print media, according to recent General Media Study (EGM) figures.

For those who find their appetite not sufficiently whetted by what is on offer in print, three major television stations, Antena 3, TeleCinco public broadcaster TVE-1 put out 13 hours of similar fare on a weekly basis.

With experts and social commentators increasingly critical of the press and television output, the Madrid Press Association (APM) has called for all concerned to show "the intelligence and sensitivity (required) by editors and producers."

In a statement the APM said it was opposed to the "proliferation of journalism which gives the information business a bad name" and programmes where "bogus journalists take part."

The Association recommended that publications and broadcasters use "auto-control mechanisms" as a form of self-censorship which would not threaten their freedom of expression.

The warning came after Prime Minister Zapatero's Socialist government promised to cut back Spain's so-called "telebasura" (literally garbage television).

The government is currently in talks with broadcasters on how to limit the exposure of minors to programmes of a violent or sexist or otherwise undesirable nature.

The government's efforts come with a celebrity couple having recently written to parliament and to Zapatero's office complaining about coverage they have had to endure.

Popular singer Isabel Pantoja and partner Julian Munoz, the former mayor of the southern town of Marbella, say there have been "constant attacks on (their) constitutional right to privacy, honour and image rights."

Recent television images showed the pair frolicking on a Marbella beach, the camera at one stage zooming in on the crotch area of Munoz, who lost the mayorship in a corruption scandal.

Others in the tabloid firing line who are hitting back include 11 bullfighters who have also had to run the gauntlet of media intrusion and who have called for Spain's privacy laws to be modified following a recent decision handed down by the European Court.

The judgment dictated that if information published on a celebrity was unrelated to their public function they had the right to privacy.

In August, Zapatero himself and his wife Sonsoles Espinosa threatened legal action and said they were "deeply unhappy" after "Diez Minutos" magazine published pictures of their young daughters without pixelling out the youngsters' faces.

Zapatero warned that if the media do not show due respect to their targets the government will respond in "inflexible" fashion.

That brought a sharp riposte from the chairman of TeleCinco, Alejandro Echevarria, who cited the right to freedom of expression and attacked the government for harking back to the "media old days," the implication being that Zapatero's administration wants to turn the clock back to the days of the Franco dictatorship of 1939-1975.
  
[Copyright EFE with Expatica]

Subject: Spanish news

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