A new Cinema Act was produced at the end of 2007 (Act 55/2007) with the aims of promoting and developing the production, distribution and exhibition of cinematographic and audiovisual works. This Act establishes the conditions that favour creation, dissemination and implementing measures for the preservation of film and audiovisual heritage – all within the context of the defence and promotion of cultural identity and diversity.
The Act also introduced the integration of cinematography in the audiovisual sector, considering cinematography as a whole with its specificities. Film and audiovisual production are devised as the core content of television and this is an important element for disseminating, promoting and financing the cinema industry.
The dynamic nature of the sector, its permanent adaptation to technological and social changes and the need to adapt its economic dimension to the market rules have led to recent legal changes in some of the fundamental aspects that were regulated in the original wording of the Act 55/2007. In particular, two modifications are noteworthy. The first, introduced by the 18/2014 Act, guarantees the unity of the market, following the exigencies of the 20/2013 Act. The second, most recent, represented by the 6/2015 Royal Decree-Law, adapts the system of subsidies for the film sector, included in the 2062/2008 Royal Decree, to the “Communication from the Commission on State aid for films and other audiovisual works”.
Subsequently, the 1084/2015 Royal Decree, that repealed the previous 2062/2008 Royal Decree, develops some of the legislative changes introduced and improves some technical and procedural aspects which required their modernization to increase their effectiveness. More recently, and with the participation of the sector, the Orderthat develops the system of subsidies for the film audiovisual sector (CUD/769/2018)has been passed.
At the organisational level, central government cultural policy on film is the responsibility of the National Institute of Film and Audiovisual Arts (ICAA), a body set up in 1984 and governed by a Decree passed in 1997. Some of the regions have adopted legislation of their own designed to encourage the film industry. This is the case in Catalonia (20/2010 Act), which has a law governing the film and audiovisual industry in terms of production, distribution, marketing, promotion, international dissemination and exhibition of films and audiovisual material besides regulating aspects related to the preservation of film heritage. The Catalan Linguistic Policy Act of 1998, for its part, sets out measures designed to promote Catalan-language films, and provides the possibility for the regional government to introduce screen and distribution quotas to ensure such films are exhibited to the public. To the same end, the Galician Audiovisual Act was passed in 1999 (6/1999 Act) and the Galician Audiovisual Consortium was created. The Valencian community has also its own Audiovisual Act (1/2006 Act) and the “Ricardo Muñoz Suay” Valencian Audiovisual and Cinema Institute (58/1998 Act), today integrated in CulturArts Generalitat (5/2013 Decree modified by the 124/2016 Decree). In 2000, the Andalusian government adopted a programme to encourage and protect the audiovisual arts and created the Andalusian Audiovisual Council (52/2000 Decree). In 2011, as a result of the economic crisis and the need to rationalise public administration, the 15/2011 Act abolished the Navarre Audiovisual Council that was created by the 18/2001 Act on audiovisual activities in Navarre. More recently, the Balearic Islands have passed the 5/2013 Act aimed at promoting the audiovisual sector in its community.
With a broader spectrum, which includes the media, Catalonia and Andalusia have their Audiovisual Councils (the Catalan Audiovisual Council is regulated by the 2/2000 Act and the Andalusian Audiovisual Council by the 1/2004 Act), which seek to encourage and protect the audiovisual arts. More recently, the Balearic Islands have created the Balearic Audiovisual Council (2/2010 Act) and the 9/2011 Act on Public Media of Galicia foresees the creation of the Galician Audiovisual Council.
Regarding the 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. Later on, in 1988, through the 10/1988 Private Television Act, the audiovisual spectrum was opened up to private initiatives 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 hand, it aimed to reinforce the role of the 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. In 2017, the 5/2017 Act amended the 17/2006 Act to regain the independence of the RTVE Corporation and the pluralism in the parliamentary election of its organ. The lack of regulatory development has led to the approval, urgently and with a temporary character, of a legal regime applicable to the appointment of the Board of Directors and its president (4/2018 Royal Decree-Law).
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 (Article 5), 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 was the creation of the State Commission of Audiovisual Media (CEMA), an independent authority, with regulatory and sanctioning powers over content in the audiovisual sector under state competence. In 2013, the CEMA was integrated in the National Commission of Markets and Competition, the regulatory affairs institution of the national government.
With the aim of making the management of media in the Autonomous Communities more flexible, the Popular government approved the 6/2012 Act that modifies the General Act on Audiovisual Communication (7/2010 Act). According to the crisis influenced austerity policies, the new act also introduced changes in the financing of autonomous media corporations, prohibiting 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.