'Game of Thrones' Premiere to Air on Schedule After Spanish Voiceover Artists Call Off Strike

 Screengrab/HBO

MADRID – Spanish voiceover artists in Madrid called off a three-week strike after reaching a pre-agreement for the sector's collective agreement that maintains the going rates and paves the way for Game of Thrones and other series to air on time with their corresponding dubbed voices.

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"In the end there is no problem for Game of Thrones," said Adolfo Moreno, president of ADOMA, the association that clusters 250 -- or 75 percent -- of Madrid's dubbing artists. "Due to the labor reform [in 2012] our professional collective agreement expired and we have been trying to maintain our rates, which are the same as in 1993."

The rates for dubbing depend on how many takes an actor voiceovers. For example, an artist that voiceovers 20 takes in Game of Thrones would earn less than 120€ ($165).

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Grey's Anatomy and Modern Family, which air on Fox in Spain, were both affected by the strike, which forced the broadcaster to show reruns.

But while ADOMA has one month to sign the final contract and Game of Thrones will air unscathed by the strike on Canal Plus on April 7, the protest has raised the question "Should Spain continue to dub all of its film and television into Spanish?"

In fact, a growing number of voices -- including internationally renowned director Carlos Saura -- has questioned the systematic dubbing of all films and television series into Spanish. Critics claim that Spaniards lag behind Europe in spoken English because of the tradition of dubbing.

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It has proved a hard habit to break for Spain, which started dubbing everything in the 1930s in the heyday of Gen. Francisco Franco's dictatorship, allowing censors to more easily alter dialogues and storylines. Only a handful of art house theaters in Madrid and Barcelona run original version movies, while chains like AMC and Cinesa may offer an occasional screening in the original language at the multiplexes scattered around the suburbs of big cities.

But the voiceover association says that the decision to dub or not dub is not at the heart of their problem.

"This is an absurd debate," Moreno said. "With the advanced technology available, audiences can choose to watch their favorite TV shows in the original language, dubbed into Spanish or with subtitles. Whatever they prefer. Languages are learned in schools and academies. Not just by watching TV."

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