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Spain/ 5.3 Sector specific legislation  

5.3.7 Mass media

In 1980, the Radio and Television Statute (4/1980 Act) was passed, which defined the fundamental role of the State Radio and Television networks and the presence of Spanish Television with its two channels. Legislation passed in 1983 (46/1983 Third Channel Act), allowed the Autonomous Communities to set up their own publicly funded radio and television broadcasting operations (see also chapter 4.2.6). Later on, in 1988, through the 10/1988 Private Television Act, the audiovisual spectrum was opened up to private initiative with a basically commercial aim.

With respect to the organisation of state media, under the State Radio and Television Act (17/2006 Act), the RTVE public institution was replaced by the RTVE Corporation, a state corporation with special autonomy. The new Act aimed, on the one hand, to provide a legal framework for public radio and television that guarantees their independence, neutrality and objectivity, and establishes organisational structures and a model of funding that enables them to carry out their mission as a public service. On the other, it aimed to reinforce the role of Parliament and foresaw the supervision of the Corporation's activity by an independent audiovisual authority. The Corporation must promote territorial cohesion and Spain's linguistic and cultural diversity; broadcast international radio and TV channels that disseminate the languages and cultures of Spain in other countries; support the social integration of minorities and cater for social groups with specific needs; promote knowledge of the arts, science, history and culture; and produce audiovisual digital and multimedia material in the languages of Spain, as a contribution to the development of Spanish and European culture industries. In order to ensure a more effective and efficient functioning of the Board of Directors of the RTVE Corporation, in April 2012, the Parliament approved a modification of the RTVE Corporation's Regime (15/2012 Royal Decree-Law), included in the 17/2006 Act. In addition to introducing some changes in the composition and the appointment of its members, the new regulation removed the fixed compensation of the members of the Board, with the exception of its President (see also chapter 4.2.6).

In March 2010, a General Act on Audiovisual Communication (7/2010 Act) was approved in order to satisfy a longstanding demand of the audiovisual sector and consumers. The Act regulates the state audiovisual media and establishes the basic rules in this field, summarising the current regulations still in force, updating those aspects which have changed and regulating new situations lacking legal framework. The main points of the Act are, on the one hand, the recognition and guarantee of the citizens' rights to receive audiovisual communication that reflects cultural and linguistic diversity (Article5), which implies the protection of the European and Spanish works in their various languages. To this end, television service providers shall reserve at least 51% of their annual broadcasting time for European works, and at least 50% of these works shall be in any of the Spanish languages. On the other hand, it obliges television service providers to allocate at least 5% (if the provider is private) or 6% (if the provider is public) of the total revenue obtained in the previous financial year to pre-financing the production of European feature films and shorts, television films, films by new producers, experimental films, documentaries, pilot programmes and animation series. Finally, another relevant aspect of the Act is the creation of the State Council of Audiovisual Media, an independent authority, with regulatory and sanctioning powers over content in the audiovisual sector under state competence. However, in line with the restructuring of the regulatory agencies, the current government has announced its willingness to set aside the creation of this Council.

With the aim of making more flexible the management of media in the Autonomous Communities, the Popular government approved, in mid-2012, the 6/2012 Act that modifies the General Act on Audiovisual Communication (7/2010 Act). The new act also introduced changes in the financing of autonomous media corporations. Thus, according to the austerity policies claimed by the central government, the Act prohibited public bodies from the possibility of going into debt, so that any deficit generated should be incorporated in next year's budget as a reduction of the available capital. As a result of the economic situation, at the end of 2013, the Valencian Community abolished the regional provision of radio and television broadcasting services (4/2013 Act).

Since the adoption of the 365/2010 Royal Decree, that regulates the allocation of Digital Terrestrial Television (DTT) multiplexes after the cessation of the analogue terrestrial transmissions, and the 691/2010 Royal Decree, that develops the DTT in high definition, there have been technological advancements that produce greater effectiveness of the compression systems of audio and video signals. With the aim of taking advantage of this increased efficiency in the use of the radio-electric resources, in February 2011, the government carried out the modification of the previous decrees by means of the 169/2011 Royal Decree.

Chapter published: 24-06-2015

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