Spain's digital future brightens

Digital forum highlights hope

MADRID – Spain's digital content sector has taken a big leap forward in the past year according to attendees as the second edition of Spain's International Forum on Digital Content (FICOD) wrapped Thursday.

More than 6,500 participants attended the forum, designed as a meeting point for the entire value chain of the Spanish-language digital content industry, up from last year's 800.

Spain's Information Society and Telecommunications Secretary Francisco Ros highlighted the 14% growth of the Spanish digital sector to hit 4.5 billion euros in sales and announced the government would invest 288 million euros ($371 million) to assist the development of digital content in 2009, a 44% jump over 2008.

"The Spanish macro sector of digital content will experience the greatest growth over the next few years compared with its European neighbors," Ros said at Madrid's Juan Carlos I Conference Center.

FICOD is an initiative of Spain's Ministry of Industry, Tourism and Commerce and ran Nov. 25-27.

Attendees were treated to a wide-ranging three-day program including speeches by NBC Telemundo COO Jacqueline Hernandez, Saatchi & Saatchi CEO Worldwide Kevin Roberts, among others.

"You have to cut the supply of Internet to the people who download music illegally over the Internet," Roberts said, "because that's the only way to make sure you get rid of piracy."

One sidebar event focused exclusively on intellectual property right. "With Apple and iTunes, we're experiencing new models of consumerism," said Geraldine Maloney of the MPAA based in London. "Young people are the future and from all points of view, they are the ones that must acquire and preserve the respect for intellectual property."

Additionally, the head of the Secretary of Information Society's office Juan Juquera, revealed a plan to invest 600 million euros ($773 million) in "introducing small and medium size companies into the world of 2.0."

The event, which streamed all its speeches, round tables and workshops live on its website in English and Spanish, addressed the subject of brain drain in the Spanish video game sector, the government's reluctance to support animated films, the resilience of traditional television and its adaptation to new platforms and the future of sharing copies and distribution of digital content.