Telecinco exits Spain's producers federation

Tense relationship with FAPAE comes to a head

MADRID -- Spanish broadcaster Telecinco -- the deep pockets behind such blue-chip Spanish films as "Pan's Labyrinth," "The Orphanage" and "Agora" -- broke off relations with the Spanish Federation of Producers on Thursday after a nasty public exchange.

"The network will not have any dialogue with this association as long as there is not a law that obliges us to engage with those that lie and present a distorted view of reality," Telecinco said in statement.

The relationship between Spain's independent producers and the private broadcasters -- required to invest 5% of revenue in local production -- has been tense for the past decade, but it bubbled over into unvarnished hatred after FAPAE president Pedro Perez used a news conference at the Malaga Spanish Film Festival to reproach the private broadcasters.

"The same as the private channels have made a great effort in production, I think they should try harder to promote their products when they air them on the small screen," Perez said.

The message deeply irritated the producers from the private broadcasters' respective production branches seated in the audience, Telecinco Cinema's Alvaro Augustin and Antena 3 Films' Juan Carlos Caro.

"Maybe FAPAE should set up its own station," Caro told the Spanish daily El Pais.

Telecinco and Antena 3 are known to run heavy-handed promotional campaigns for their productions -- including a monthlong promotional run for the free TV premiere of Telecinco's "Alatriste" in December, which took only 9% audience share -- compared to the network's 15% average share.

Thursday's statement came after a week of escalating exchanges that began when Telecinco president Alejandro Echevarria said there is no justification for a private company to have to finance a private sector like film production at last week's general shareholders meeting.

"Certain producers just don't want to develop businesswise if it doesn't involve living off of subsides," Echevarria said.

Perez responded immediately with: "His (Echevarria's) ignorance is startling when speaking about subsidized producers because the group that he represents has received around five times more public money than the most benefitted producer."

The broadcasters -- including pubcaster Television Espanola -- have been forced to invest some €1.2 billion in local productions since 2000. Telecinco led the pack, investing some €50 million single-handedly in 2008.

But the broadcasters have regularly balked at the obligation -- which was reduced to 3% of revenues for film production in January following new legislation that opened up the game to new players that have come into the television landscape since 1999.