La Marató de TV3 is an annual telethon broadcast by Televisió de Catalunya and the Fundació La Marató de TV3 to raise funds for scientific research into diseases which are currently incurable. But La Marató de TV3 is more than just a fund-raising drive. It also informs the Catalan public about these diseases and explains the need for research aimed at preventing and curing them. Just as important as the money raised by the telethon are the scientific publications, the awareness-raising, and public education in scientific questions.
TV3 was the first public television station in Spain to broadcast a telethon, in 1992. While these programmes enjoy a long tradition in the USA and in other European countries, it represented a new challenge at the time for Catalan television. TV3’s work over the years has turned the telethon into an enormous success.
This live television programme is broadcast in December every year and lasts about 15 hours. It is hosted by one or two well-known individuals who, like the rest of the team, put in a true marathon effort. Every year La Marató attracts an audience of more than 3 million viewers, collects an average of 7 million euros, and mobilises so many people that it is regarded as Catalonia’s great festival of community spirit and generosity. It is the most successful televised fund-raiser in Spain and ranks among the most prestigious international telethons.
The programme is designed to raise awareness, to inform, and to entertain. During the course of the broadcast the audience is informed about these diseases by personal accounts from individuals suffering from them and from their families, and by doctors and scientists associated with them, with the aid of state-of-the art audiovisual technology. While maintaining its spirit of scientific and ethical rigour, La Marató de TV3 also aims to provide quality entertainment. Participants include well-known individuals from the world of music, theatre, film and sports, who donate their talents just as many other anonymous volunteers donate their time, taking donor pledges or performing other support tasks.
To continue reaching its goals La Marató de TV3, which started out as just a television programme, has grown and developed over the years and now includes spin-offs such as the Disc de La Marató, a DVD collection of music performed during the Telethon, and a book entitled Llibre de La Marató. The Catalan cultural world artists, writers, record companies, publishers co-operate in this effort to raise funds and to heighten people’s awareness and knowledge of the disease or diseases under consideration.
Every year the programme’s results reflect TV3’s ability to spark interest in a cause and the willingness of the Catalan public to join together in an expression of generosity. Public reaction can be measured not only by the amount of money raised but also by the number of people and companies that rally to the cause. In addition to their donations, individuals contribute time and energy, both as volunteers and as organisers of the more than 2,000 different events that take place throughout Catalonia in support of La Marató. Companies too offer their services, products and financial donations to raise awareness of these diseases and support research into them.