Radio Nacional de España
Radio Nacional de España (RNE) (National Radio of Spain) is Spain's national public radio service. Since 1973 it has formed, together with Televisión Española (TVE), a part of Radiotelevisión Española (RTVE), the corporation responsible for managing national public-service broadcasting in Spain.
Origins of RNE
Radio Nacional de España officially came into existence in Salamanca on 19 January 1937, at the height of the Spanish Civil War (1936–1939), and was dependent upon the recently created Delegación de Estado para Prensa y Propaganda (State Delegation for Press and Propaganda). The station's studios were in Palacio de Anaya, the headquarters of the Oficina de Prensa y Propaganda (Office for Press and Propaganda), whose first directors were also those of RNE.
It was at this time that the immense propaganda potential of radio became apparent, and from 14 June 1937 RNE became the nationalists' leading radio station. That distinction had until then been held by Radio Castilla de Burgos, which produced the information and propaganda that all of the radio stations that had fallen into the hands of the nationalist forces were obliged to carry.
The post Spanish Civil War era
On 6 October 1939, at the conclusion of the Spanish Civil War, the leader of the victorious Nationalist forces, General Francisco Franco, issued an order subjecting private radio broadcasting to censorship by the official political party of the state, FET y de las JONS, and furthermore granting RNE the exclusive right to transmit news bulletins.
In consequence, all broadcasters (private as well as public) were obliged to connect twice daily with RNE and re-transmit the government-approved news bulletins produced by the official radio channel. These bulletins, normally broadcast in the early afternoon at 14.30 and in the late evening at 22.00, were officially entitled Diario Hablado, although – given their origin in the war dispatches (partes de guerra) of 1936–39 and their continued militaristic tone – they were long popularly referred to as El parte.
The only other sources of information available to radio listeners in Spain at that time were the Spanish-language bulletins broadcast by the BBC and by French Radio from Toulouse, as well as the programmes of Radio España Independiente, which was a radio station established by the Communist Party of Spain in exile in Moscow (although known as La Pirenaica since it was believed to broadcast from a location somewhere in the Pyrenees).
Although from the time of the Civil War there had already been foreign broadcasts in various languages, it was not until April 1945 that the installation of the central short wave transmitter at Arganda del Rey (Madrid) would provide 40 kW of broadcasting power, which was very strong for this period. Foreign broadcasting thus acquired a great importance, with transmissions (in Spanish as much as in English) directed especially at America.
In 1940, RNE's headquarters were transferred to Madrid. During this post-Spanish Civil War and early Second World War era – before the Allied arrival in Italy in 1943 and the German retreat from Stalingrad – RNE collaborated with the Axis powers in retransmitting in Spanish news from the official radio stations of Germany and Italy.
It was from this moment on that the slow journey of Spanish public radio began, motivated by the poor quality of the media on the one hand, and the international block on the other which impeded, until 1955, the entry of RNE into the European Broadcasting Union.
The end of the 1950s and beginning of the 1960s saw the introduction of advanced technologies such as frequency modulation (FM) and transmissions in stereo. A parallel commercial channel, Radio Peninsular, was also created.
The 60s and 70s: a time of growth
1964 was the first year of a major restructuring exercise at RNE which was to see the establishment of a network of regional broadcasting centres equipped with powerful 250 to 500 kW mediumwave transmitters. These gave RNE full coverage of not just the national territory but a good part, too, of the rest of Europe (especially at night). The regional transmitters normally all broadcast the same signal, relayed from the main studios in Madrid, although provision was made for them to opt out at certain times of day and transmit regional news from their own local studios. This was the foundation of today's RNE Radio 1.
In November 1965 RNE opened a second network, using FM transmitters and specializing in music – taking advantage of the superior sound quality offered by this method of transmission. This network eventually became the RNE channel which is today known as Radio Clásica.
In 1971 a new shortwave transmitter was inaugurated at Noblejas in the province of Toledo. Intended for the broadcasting of RNE's external services (now Radio Exterior de España), this transmitter was much more powerful than its predecessor sited at Arganda del Rey. These services were to undergo a far-reaching reform in 1975 when broadcasts in Russian and other Slavic languages, directed at audiences behind the "iron curtain", were withdrawn in favour of programmes intended for Spaniards and other Spanish-speaking people abroad.
The democratic era
The arrival of democracy to Spain after the death of Franco in 1975 produced several changes. One of these was the end, on 25 October 1977, of the private broadcasters' obligation to connect with RNE for the transmission of daily news bulletins. From then on, each broadcaster was free to determine the content of its own news programmes.
By the end of the 1970s, the broadcasts of Tercer Programa (RNE 3), which until then had only been transmitted in Madrid, were extended to the whole of Spain. RNE 3 offered educational and cultural programming, which was enlarged to include programmes on musical themes.
Throughout the Franco dictatorship a number of semi-official radio stations (autorizadas) had functioned in parallel with the private broadcasters and RNE, and belonged to organisations such as Confederación Nacional de Sindicatos (National Confederation of Trade Unions), Movimiento, and Organización Juvenil Espanola (The Spanish Youth Organisation). These stations were merged in 1978 into Radiocadena Española (Spanish Radio Network). However, some of the transmitters had to be closed down because their frequencies were not included in those assigned to Spain in the international agreements covering the distribution of the radio broadcasting spectrum. Radiocadena Española was merged in 1988 into Radio Nacional de España to form RNE Ràdio 4 (broadcasting in Catalan) and RNE Radio 5 (broadcasting in Spanish).
In 1989, Radiocadena Española and Radio Nacional were combined to produce the current format of six themed radio channels:
- Radio Nacional (previously Radio 1) – Generalist channel with a broad spectrum of mostly speech-based programming.
- Radio Clásica (previously Radio 2) – Concerts and classical music in general.
- Radio 3 – RNE's "youth station", concentrating on pop, rock, world music, folk, and allied cultural events.
- Ràdio 4 – Regional broadcasting in the Catalan language.
- Radio 5 – 24-hour news.
- Radio Exterior de España – International broadcasting service on short wave, with an audience of 80 million listeners (surpassed only by the BBC and Vatican Radio). This station is also transmitted via DAB for Spain and by satellite. Transmissions are in Spanish, French, Arabic, Ladino, Portuguese, Russian and English.
Integrated into the state public broadcasting body RTVE (Radiotelevisión Española) in 1973, RNE today has been assigned the role of "state public radio service, which is an essential service for the community and for the cohesion of democratic societies".
Like its television broadcasting sister organisation, TVE, Radio Nacional is wholly financed by public funds and does not air commercials in its programming.
- History of radio in Spain from Portalmundos.com (in Spanish)
- Official website of Radio Nacional de España (in Spanish)
- Portal for web broadcasts from all RNE channels (in Spanish)
- RNE podcasts (in Spanish)
- Official website of RTVE (in Spanish)
- English version of the Radio Exterior de España website