Interview with María Jesús Díaz González

“There are tensions between what technology allows and the interests of the industries involved in the audiovisual sector”

María Jesús Díaz González, professor in the Faculty of Sciences of the Communication of the University of Coruña (Spain),  will be until December 4, 2017 at the CECS to hold a research mission under the guidance of Helena Sousa, coordinator of the Communication, Organizations and Social Dynamics Group. The scope of her investigations focuses on communication structure and policies, and her work is mainly on the audiovisual sector (television and cinema). With this mission, she seeks to know the work of CECS researchers in this area.


– Why did you choose CECS for the development of your work?
The choice was undoubtedly made because of its prestige. I met the CECS of the University of Minho through the publications of its researchers.
My research is linked to communication structure and policies. The search for recent work on the case of Portugal undoubtedly leads to the reference authors in this country, such as Professor Helena Sousa and her team. I began to follow their publications and activities and, as a consequence, I became interested in the University and the Center. I will then discover what is the Communication a d Society Research Center, its researchers and its working groups. From then on, I considered that it would be a great opportunity to travel to Braga and meet these colleagues personally and work with them.
In addition, during the period 2014-2016, I participated as a researcher in a national R&D project on audiovisual policies in Europe. As a result of this work, a vook a book entitled “Austerity and clientelism. Audiovisual policy in Spain in the Mediterranean context and the financial crisis” was published . In this book, the investigators Helena Sousa and Mariana Lameiras dealt with the chapter dedicated to Portugal. This gave me the opportunity to collaborate in a joint effort and further convinced me that a research mission at CECS would be very enriching.

– What research do you propose to develop during your research mission?
A research related to communication policies that includes a comparative perspective between Portugal and Spain, since the CECS team has an important experience in the field of comparative studies between countries, in the context of European diversity.
In addition, I always thought of this research mission as an opportunity to know and put into practice the different methodologies used by the Research Group on Communication, Organizations and Social Dynamics of CECS.

– What are the major differences between the Portuguese and Spanish audiovisual sectors?
In fact, I do not really know the Portuguese audiovisual sector; This is something I intend to do during my research mission. However, I can point out that there is a parallelism and an important difference.
A parallelism because the average system of both countries responds to a similar political and social conception. In the case of television, for example, the initial existence of an important public group in monopoly, the way of understanding what the public television service is, the preponderance of television opened by terrestrial waves, etc. The difference stems from the fact that Spain and Portugal are audiovisual markets of a very different size, which determines, from the outset, many different decisions and possibilities. This can be seen, for example, when studying policies to promote cinematography and audiovisuals.

– There are structural changes in the way we watch television, for example. The trend of platforming is global. Also in the movies. Against this backdrop, what challenges are there in the area? What scenario do you foresee will exist in the future?
An exciting scenario for the investigator and the teacher, because so many things happen and so quickly that we can never be bored. She would have more concerns if she was an audiovisual producer or director of a television network…
Last June, I attended a specialized market for co-productions of television (Conecta Fiction), which brought together European and American professionals. They all talked about the fact that the arrival of Netflix in their countries had shaken the foundations of the commercial model and that, in order to develop global quality content, the path would be co-production. Many unknowns were perceived, but too much energy was associated with the situation.
In Europe, the digital single market strategy seeks to establish appropriate and sustainable conditions to guide the revolution that led to digitization. The production, distribution and consumption of content are transformed and must be adapted, but at the same time there are tensions between what technology allows and the interests of the industries involved in the audiovisual sector. Interests that should also be considered, because investors can not run the risk of moving forward with an audiovisual business (which often requires high investments) if the recipient of the content wants to receive everything for free or almost free. At the same time, the industry establishes artificial barriers and costs, because until now it has obtained some profit margins that it does not want to diminish.
What will be the future scenario? The future is always uncertain, but I hope to be there to live and investigate.

Interview and photo: Vítor de Sousa