Legislation draws Spain b'casters ire


MADRID -- Spain's broadcasters lashed out this week against a proposed film law that would increase the amount television companies must invest in Spanish cinema, arguing the move will inhibits free competition and disrupt the media balance.

The statements caused a furor within the Spanish film industry, with the involved parties denying the accusations and attempting to defuse the situation.

In a press release, UTECA -- the entity that represents Spain's private broadcasters -- said the proposed measure was a "parafiscal measure appropriate of the 19th century" in that it requires broadcasters to invest 6% of their revenues -- rather than the present 5% -- in domestic production.

The Culture Ministry, which has made passage of the film law one of its priorities for this legislature, has opened the bill to debate amongst the affected parties until mid-January.

UTECA also complained that European films must be bought through Spanish distributors and that television producers cannot benefit from the resources available for "independent producers," according to new definitions included in the bill.

Spanish producers lobby FAPAE immediately countered UTECA's accusations, saying that UTECA's statements do not correspond with the bill's proposals or the "European reality."

The producers said they prefer not to fight with the broadcasters and want to reach an agreement to present jointly to the Culture Ministry.

Meanwhile, Spain's culture minister denied that the new law burdened the broadcasters but said she is willing to go back to the drawing board to see if there is a text that pleases everyone.

"The new text does not increase the commitment required of the broadcasters with Spanish cinema," Culture Minister Carmen Calvo said.

The head of Spain's film institute added that broadcasters would be able to participate in production projects up to 60% under the new conditions, rather than the 50% presently allowed.