Spanish Popular Party Aims to Eliminate Fee Imposed on Private Broadcasters

The Popular Party wants to reconsider the obligation for broadcasters like Telecinco and Antena 3 to invest 5% of revenue in local film production.

MADRID -  A week before general elections in Spain, chatter has surfaced centering on the center-right party's promise to repeal the license fee private broadcasters are obliged to invest in Spanish film financing.

Presently, private webs like Telecinco and Antena 3 are obligated to invest 5 percent of their revenues in Spanish production and have backed most of Spain's biggest films in recent years.

"It should be the private channels that foment the general audiovisual industry and [pubcaster] RTVE that does so for Spanish cinema," Esteban Gonzalez Pons, the vice-secretary for Communication for the center-right Popular Party said.

In September, RTVE announced it would invest $55 million in Spanish productions in 2011, including some of the most-anticipated titles. This year’s TVE slate includes top-tier features like Daniel Monzon’s much-anticipated follow-up to prison drama Cell 211, called Murder WeekendDaniel Calparsoro’s Invasor (Invador),  Jaime Rosales’ Sueno y Silencio (Sleep and Silence) Kanzaman's €21 million ($28 million) Cold Skin, to be directed by Hitman director Xavier Gens.

"It's an opportunity, not a threat," replied FAPAE producers president Pedro Perez about the suggestion that local films could lose the obligatory backing of private broadcasters. "There's no problem in a better definition of how resources are divvied up."

Some insiders suggest Perez is eyeing the €85 million ($115 million) RTVE spent on American product last year, with big deals with Warner,  Universal, Disney and Paramount.