New mandate for Spanish pubcaster

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MADRID -- Spain's ruling Socialist party has overhauled the legal framework in which pubcaster Radio Television Espanola operates, drafting a mandate that calls on the broadcaster to "contribute to the construction of an identity of Spain" and reduces the acceptable amount of advertising for the state-run television channel.

RTVE will continue its mixed model of financing, benefiting from state subsidies and advertising revenue. But the proposed mandate imposes additional restrictions that pull the advertising levels below those of the private broadcasters -- a key demand of commercial broadcasters.

The proposal does not set a specific restriction. Spain's private broadcasters have repeatedly requested that the advertising ceiling for the pubcaster be lowered by 25% -- to nine minutes per hour, from the present 12 minutes per hour that all broadcasters currently abide by.

The draft comes one year after the Spanish parliament approved a law that labeled RTVE a "corporation" and demanded a new framework for the public service.

On Wednesday, the Socialist party distributed the draft to other parliamentary parties to facilitate debate when the legislative term resumes after summer.

The draft calls on RTVE to respect and serve Spain's various cultural minorities -- Basques, Catalans, etc. -- as well as their languages. It also seeks to pull the pubcaster out from under the direct guidance of the government and said the pubcaster must seek a balance between its obligation to use its own production resources and the role of empowering the national audiovisual industry.
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