Tv and sport in spain


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Article written by Joseba Bonaut (2009)
Videoactive Project (funded by EU) - Creating access to Europe's TV Heritage

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Tv and sport in spain

  1. 1. INFLUENCE OF FOOTBALL BROADCASTING IN THE BEGINNING OF SPANISH TELEVISION Dr. Joseba Bonaut Iriarte – Universidad San Jorge (Zaragoza, Spain) In Spain, regular television broadcasting started the 28th of October 1956. At that time, there were only 600 TV sets and the coverage of the Spanish Public Television, TVE, barely reached 70 kilometers around the outskirts of Madrid. Like any other beginning in television, TVE developed a very experimental and improvised programming in terms of TV formats and genres. In these first years, sport content (and football in particular) played a key role in channel strategies. In fact, several years before the beginning of regular TV broadcasting, sport competitions appeared with a strong presence in the very first TV exhibitions in Barcelona and Madrid. In August 1948, during the trade fair organized by the American company RCA in the Círculo de Bellas Artes in Madrid, there were several live sport broadcasts including boxing, basketball, wrestling, etc. These early telecasts came late if we compare them to the experimental sports broadcasts in the USA, United Kingdom or Germany (with the Olympic Games in Berlin in 1936). Also at this early stage of experimentation (non regular broadcasts began in 1951), TVE filmed the first football game of its history. On October 24, 1954, the Spanish Public Television filmed a match between Real Madrid and Racing Santander (an official game of the Spanish League) and broadcasted it several days after. This football broadcast coincided with the development of the first football telecasts in other European countries and with the opening TV schedule of Eurovision Network (the operational service of the European Broadcasting Union). The World Cup Football held in Switzerland was prime time content. These early TV experiences strengthened the presence of sports programming in the first years of TVE. During this time, sport was a key
  2. 2. factor in the Spanish TV consolidation and made the first outside broadcasts possible and the final connection with other European channels and, especially, with the Eurovision Network. In 1957, Spanish Public Television had many production limitations and a desperate need to diversify its programming. Outside broadcasts became a solution and to enhance these programs, TVE purchased in England a mobile unit with 3 cameras and a sound table. This machine allowed the transmission of the first football games on the screens of TVE (recorded programs), among them the final of the European Cup between Real Madrid and Fiorentina on May 30, 1957. The success of this telecast and the consolidation of the new technique made the first live football broadcast possible on April 27, 1958. In a decisive match of the Spanish Football League (“la Liga”), Atlético de Madrid and Real Madrid faced each other with the title on the line (this match was held in the old Atletico’s stadium, “The Metropolitan”). Spanish Public Television used the new mobile unit to broadcast the event, connecting the stadium with their production centre in Paseo de la Habana (Madrid). A big antenna and a microwave link located on the roof of a building near the stadium allowed the broadcast to be carried out. The match finished with a tie in the score and with this result, Real Madrid won the title. The telecast was the first of many in the following years. TVE became the first television in Europe with a weekly live broadcast of the National Footbal League (1963), and British television followed this experience almost 18 years later. Despite its poor development, Spanish Public Television was a pioneer in sports programming and a reference for other European channels. In addition, sports programming made the spreading of television across Spain possible, with special attention to Barcelona and its final connection with the French Public Television (RTF) and the rest of European channels. In 1959, the telecast of the classic football rivalry (“el clásico”) between Real
  3. 3. Madrid and F.C. Barcelona opened the first chapter in Barcelona TV history and attracted almost two million viewers to ensure the success of the Spanish Public Television across the nation. Several months later, the necessary connection with the Eurovision Network came with another major sporting event: the broadcast of the European Cup Final between Real Madrid and Eintracht Frankfurt (May 1960). This was a historical match because TVE received time images from abroad thanks to the Eurovision Network for the very first. This match was also a huge success for Real Madrid, which won its fifth consecutive European Cup (a record). The decisive connection with Eurovision took place on December 15, 1960, with the broadcasting of the wedding between monarchs Baudouin and Fabiola of Belgium. Sport broadcasting was a decisive factor in the beginning and development of Spanish television, thus allowing it to spread across the country (becoming the first media reference), to diversify TV programming, to conduct the first outside broadcasts and, finally, to make the connection with other European Countries and Eurovision Network possible. FURTHER READING -BAGET, José Mª, Historia de la televisión en España: 1956-1975, Feed-Back Ediciones, Barcelona, 1993. -BARNETT, Steven, Games and sets: the changing face of sport on television, BFI, London, 1990. -BONAUT, Joseba, “Televisión y deporte. Origen y desarrollo histórico de la programación deportiva española (1956-1975)”, Libros en Red, Buenos Aires, 2009. -BONAUT, Joseba, “Televisión y deporte. La programación deportiva española en la era democrática: la antesala de la competencia televisiva (1976-1988)”, Libros en Red, Buenos Aires, 2009. -BONAUT, Joseba, “Relation of need between Sport and Television. Influence of Sport Programming in Spanish Television (1956-1989), Comunicazioni Sociali, Numero 1, Anno 2006, Milano. -COAKLEY and DUNNING, Handbook of sports studies, Sage, London, 2002. -RADER, Benjamin G., In it’s own image: how television has transformed sports, Free Press, New York, 1984. -WENNER, Lawrence A., Mediasport, Routledge, London, 1998. -WHANNEL, Garry, Fields in vision: television sport and cultural transformation, Routledge, Londres, 1992.