Feature

World Media 2007: Spain

No longer just a cheap holiday destination, Spain has positively bounced into the 21st century with impressive growth rates and a GDP that is set to outstrip that of Italy in the near future.

Spain has witnessed a minor economic miracle over the past decade or so, returning annual growth rates double the European average. For instance, the economy expanded by an impressive 3.8 per cent in 2006 and will, according to many forecasters, come close to matching that in 2007. GDP per head of population is now set to outstrip Italy's by 2009.

If you'd suggested such a thing was possible 20 years ago, most people, not least the Italians, would have laughed. Even into the early 90s, Spain hadn't quite shaken off the Franco hangover and it was still regarded in Northern Europe as a quaintly backward country, good for nothing outside of its role as a cheap holiday destination.

It still does tourism, of course - but these days it would rather divert the trashy end of the market on to other beaches on other shores.

The reasons for Spain's performance are simple - its political system is relatively stable, its trade unions are moderate, its workforce is flexible and its openness to new ideas these days is matched by economic liberalism.

Or so we thought. Last year, the Spanish government tried to impose stringent conditions on a EUR37 billion bid by a German power utility, E.ON, to take over the Spanish electricity company Endesa. The conditions were ruled illegal by European competition authorities.

One thing's for sure, though - mergers and acquisitions are a big theme in Spain and, in many cases, these days it's actually the Spanish who are the buyers. The UK has been a particularly happy hunting ground. For instance, the mobile telephony giant O2 and the airport operator BAA, to take two fairly recent examples, are now in Spanish hands.

All of this has its downsides, Spanish commentators say. Spain's business culture is becoming too gung-ho and Anglo-Saxon, they warn - and they fret about the amount of debt that Spanish companies are now willing to embrace as they seek ways to fund their expansion plans.

The economic boom - and the robust advertising economy it has created - is continuing to drive forward the modernisation of Spain's broadcast infrastructure and the government has ambitious plans to switch off analogue transmission signals by 2010. Cable and satellite penetration is relatively low (11 per cent and 17 per cent respectively) but a new digital terrestrial platform was launched last year and penetration rose steadily, reaching 6 per cent by the end of 2006.

ADVERTISING EXPENDITURE
USdollars million at current prices. All years based on US$1 =
EUR 0.80 *Estimated
Total News- Maga- TV Radio Cinema Out- Online
papers zines door
2000 7,034 2,104 914 2,874 624 69 383 66
2001 6,800 1,982 909 2,675 609 55 506 64
2002 6,744 1,904 867 2,717 603 56 508 89
2003 6,928 1,860 876 2,882 632 59 525 93
2004 7,650 1,970 962 3,328 672 51 550 117
2005 8,272 2,073 986 3,679 758 53 573 150
2006 8,751 2,156 991 3,989 785 54 581 195
2007* 9,225 2,229 1,001 4,272 812 55 593 263
2008* 9,752 2,296 1,011 4,577 841 55 605 368
2009* 10,365 2,365 1,021 4,903 870 56 617 534

Adspend notes 1) After discounts. 2) Excludes agency commission. 3)
Excludes production costs. 4) Excludes classified advertising.

FACTFILE
HIGHEST CIRCULATING TITLES
Newspaper: 20 Minutos (free, daily, 915,000 copies)
Business magazine: Emprendedores (monthly, 70,000 copies)
Consumer magazine: Digital+ (monthly, 2,032,000 copies)
TOP TV SHOWS
Most-watched TV programme: Fifa World Cup qualifying playoff, Spain v
Slovakia
Best new TV format: Yo Soy Bea, an adaptation of the Colombian soap that
inspired Ugly Betty
MAJOR MEASUREMENT TOOLS
Press: Estudio General de Medios
TV viewing: Sofres
MAIN MEDIA OWNERS
Newspapers: Grupo Godo, Grupo Planeta
Magazines: Grupo Edipress/Hymsa, Grupo Godo
TV: Antena 3, Telecinco

THE LOWDOWN

- Media topic du jour

Television audience fragmentation, due to the launch of new channels - which, in turn, is creating inflation in the airtime marketplace.

- Reigning media guru and why

Emilio Aragon, former actor turned producer and now the president of the new television channel LaSexta.

- Media mogul to be seen dining with and why

Ignacio Polanco, who in November was named by his father, Jesus de Polanco, as his successor as chairman of Prisa. Spain's largest media company, Prisa has also been extending its presence in the Latin American and Portuguese markets.

- Car to drive: BMW X3.

- Phone to carry: Nokia N93.

- Whatever you do, don't say: Manana.

BUZZ MEDIA IDEA OF 2006

There's no better example of the new corporate dynamism in Spain than the merger of the Amena and Wanado brands. The company's services (fixed-line telephony, mobile, high speed internet and TV) were relaunched under the Orange brand, backed by a huge campaign. Not only does this show the vitality of Spain's ad market recently - but also its determination to expand its digital infrastructure.