Spain

[ES] First Draft Law on Audiovisual Communication

IRIS 2021-1:1/3

María T. García Leiva

On 6 November, the Ministry of Economic Affairs and Digital Transformation made public a Draft Law on Audiovisual Communication (Anteproyecto de Ley General de la Comunicación Audiovisual) with the aim of transposing the European Union's amended Audiovisual Media Services Directive and updating the regulation of the sector so that there is a level playing field for all competing agents.

The draft is open to public information and consultation until 3 December and, once approved, will substitute the current Law 7/2010 on Audiovisual Communication. The main changes proposed in relation to the latter are:

- Protection of minors: The co-regulation of the description and rating of content by age is promoted; contents and advertising relating to gaming, esoterism or parascience should be aired from 1 a.m. to 5 a.m. on linear free-to-air and pay television services; and all providers would have a duty to facilitate parental control systems.

- Accessibility: The existing obligations are extended to all providers, including therefore, for the first time, pay television and on-demand services.

- Advertising: Greater flexibility is allowed for commercial communications in linear television services: the limit of 12 minutes per hour is extended to a maximum of 144 minutes between 6 a.m. and 6 p.m., and to a maximum of 72 minutes between 6 p.m. and midnight. The existing prohibitions on alcohol and tobacco are extended to all providers of audiovisual communication services.

- Promotion of European works: quotas and prefunding obligations: Quotas would apply to providers of both linear and non-linear services legally based in Spain. Linear services would continue to reserve at least 51% of their annual broadcasting time for European audiovisual works, of which 50% should be reserved for works in Spanish or in any of Spain's co-official languages. In any case, 10% of the total broadcasting time is to be reserved for independent producers. Providers of on-demand services will have to offer a 30% share of European works in their catalogues, of which 50% should be reserved for works in Spanish or in any of Spain's co-official languages. The prominence of these works shall be ensured. Pre-funding obligations would apply to providers of both linear and non-linear services legally based in or targeting Spain (as long as their previous fiscal year's income in the country reached a minimum of 10 million euros). Such obligations could be fulfilled via direct contributions to the production of works, the acquisition of their exploitation rights, or through a contribution to a national fund dedicated to the protection of cinema (Fondo de Protección de la Cinematografía). Obligations are stipulated differently depending on the type of provider: public service broadcasters would invest 6% of their income from the previous year, whilst commercial players would contribute 5%.


References


This article has been published in IRIS Legal Observations of the European Audiovisual Observatory.