Spanish Government declares State of Alarm in Madrid

Alberto Gonzalo – AEPDE Web Coordinator

MADRID, October 13, 2020 – On Thursday, October 8th, the Spanish Ministry of Health announced 12,423 cases of Covid-19, of which 5,585 had been diagnosed in the last 24 hours, compared to 5,075 on Wednesday, bringing the official global figure for people infected with coronavirus to 848,324.

With regard to those who died from Covid-19, the department headed by Minister Salvador Illa recorded 126 more on Thursday, and 421 in the last week. This saw the overall number of deaths from coronavirus in Spain, according to the Ministry, rise to 32,688 people.

Last Friday (9/10/2020), an extraordinary Council of Ministers decreed the State of Alarm in Madrid due to the rate of infection in the second wave, after several failed negotiations with the regional government and after the High Court of Justice in Madrid annulled the measures taken by the Government of Spain on the restriction of mobility in the capital of Spain.

Current political context: The Covid-19 has generated a polarization in society and a serious political and economic crisis. Currently, there is a Motion of Censure against the President of the Government, the socialist Pedro Sánchez, carried out by the political party VOX due to the political and health mismanagement of the pandemic.

Journalism is suffering a serious credibility crisis on the part of the citizenry. Covid-19 is the main theme of all the media.

According to FAPE (Federation of Associations of Journalists of Spain), to which the AEPD also belongs, the Covid-19 “infects” Journalism, generating censorship, self-censorship and more disinformation than ever.

Since the beginning of the pandemic, the Spanish Government has subsidized private television stations with 15 million euros. In this sense, it is worth noting that the two most relevant audiovisual groups, Atresmedia and Mediaset, earned a total of 118 and 211 million Euros respectively in 2019. In April 2020, the Spanish Government spent another 4.5 Million Euros on institutional advertising.

On the other hand, a new newspaper is being created, backed by the Vox political party, which will include the signatures of several well-known conservative journalists, such as Fernando Sánchez Dragó, Alfonso Ussía and Vanessa Vallejo.

At a time of uncertainty for the sector, the general decline in print media sales in Spain continues. The large printed newspapers have once again been audited by the Office of Justification of Broadcasting (OJD) after a three-month hiatus forced by Covid-19. Figures for July and August confirm falls ranging from 20% to 40%, depending on the newspaper.

A period in which all the newspapers marked new historic lows and relevant events took place, such as ABC surpassing El Mundo in terms of circulation, something never seen before.

The feeling in the sector is that it will no longer return to pre-covid levels and that the slower but equally sustained fall will continue.

In July, the five major newspapers -El País, ABC, El Mundo, La Vanguardia and El Periódico- added up to 272,900 copies of daily average circulation, a loss of 118,788 copies compared to July 2019. In the case of the month of August, the sum of the diffusion of these newspapers reached 279,547, with 99,899 copies less.

Media companies, as well as companies from other sectors, have been able to benefit from the aid provided by the Ministry of Labor through the so-called ERTE (Temporary Employment Regulation Act). At first, these aids and measures were contemplated until the end of September, but finally they have been extended until January 31, 2021. In this regard, it should be noted that, apart from the economic financing through the institutional publicity mentioned above, there has been no specific aid for the media or freelance journalists, who have had to take advantage of the generic aid for the rest of the self-employed workers.

Regarding sports events, one must clearly differentiate professional competitions from the rest, since professional leagues are being held.

Football: The League (First and Second football Division) is being played just like the final stretch last season. That is, with an exhaustive health protocol that prevents the public from going to the stadiums and with many restrictions on journalists and reporters who come to the field. For example, photographers are not allowed to move from their seats during the entire match and press conferences are held telematically. The Iberdrola League, First Division of women’s football, has also started the current season without an audience in the stadiums.

Basketball: The Endesa League (the top-flight competition of male basketball), has started, as it was contemplated, without public. The return of fans to the stands will be staggered and by phases, although the dates have not yet been defined. As the pandemic evolves, a date will be set to begin Phase 2, which consists of the return of the public to the stands with limited capacity. Athletes and other club members are subject to periodic check-ups and routine PCR testing for Coronavirus.

Handball: The Asobal League (the highest male competition in the sport) is also played behind closed doors. As in the other sports disciplines, PCR tests are carried out periodically. At the weekend eleven positive PCR tests were detected in the Incarlopsa Cuenca team.

Cycling: On October 20th the Vuelta Ciclista a España 2020 will start in the city of Irún (Guipuzcoa), one of the three most important cycling events of the international peloton. The Vuelta will conclude in Madrid on November 8th and for the celebration of this event an extensive health protocol has been elaborated for the prevention and early detection of Covid-19, both in the cycling teams and in the sports media professionals who will cover the event. For the Vuelta Ciclista a España, the control systems that were used in the recent edition of the Tour de France have been extended to the representatives of the media.

Athletics: On October 7th, the NN Valencia World Record Day was celebrated in the Turia Stadium (Valencia), an athletics appointment that was attended by the main figures of the international ‘running’. During the event, no serious incidents related to the pandemic were reported. During the celebration of the championship, Cheptegei beat the record of Bekele in the 10.000m race. Ethiopian Gidey also broke Dibaba’s record of 5,000 meters.

Futsal: The National Futsal League has also started normally. About the public in the stands: In each autonomous community there is a different protocol for the limited presence of the public in the stands of the indoor soccer pavilions.

The ‘Consejo Superior de Deportes’ (the highest governmental body responsible for sport at all levels) has developed a protocol for practicing sport during the pandemic. Training levels and categories of fans in different sports disciplines must comply with this regulation.

IMPACT ON JOBS AND SALARIES

The information agency ‘Servimedia’ has held this weekend the informative meeting ‘The future of the media after the Covid-19’, in which the directors of the newspapers ‘ABC’, ‘La Vanguardia’, ‘Público’ and the television ‘LaSexta’ have participated. During this presentation, all agreed that journalism has a great future despite the economic crisis caused by the pandemic, which has led to a drop in advertising revenues in the press but has increased the audiences because of the public’s interest in information.

Radio in Spain is suffering a significant drop in advertising revenue because of the Covid-19 that will lead to salary cuts and layoffs. According to Invertia, one of the most relevant online portals specialized in economic information in the country, “the radio stations have not been able to resist the fall in advertising and the bad forecasts for the rest of the year”.

In individual terms, the stations have only made public the results of the first quarter without the great impact of the confinement in their accounts. In this sense, until March 31st, 2020, the pandemic caused a reduction in income and operating profit of 6.5 million and 4.6 million euros, respectively, in the accounts of La Ser.

In the case of COPE, the issuer confirmed a 35% drop in sales in March compared to the same month last year, which accumulated a 19% year-on-year drop in the first quarter of the year.

For its part, Atresmedia Radio (Onda Cero and Europe FM) reached in the first half of 2020 net revenues of 29.6 million euros, compared to 43.3 million euros obtained in the first half of 2019, a drop of 31%. The station also recorded operating losses of 1.5 million, compared with profits of 7.5 million in the same period last year (Source: Invertia).

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