Spain approves new overall TV law
From David Del Valle in Madrid

A Spanish cabinet meeting has approved a new overall TV law (Ley General del Audiovisual) paving the way for the creation of an Audiovisual Council, the exploitation and development of pay DTT, Mobile TV and HDTV and allowing TV cross-ownerships, among other things.

With the new legislation, TV operators will be able to dedicate up to 50 per cent of its DTT multiplex to pay DTT services. From April 2010, each nationwide broadcaster will operate one multiplex (5 channels), except for the state-owned RTVE, with 2 (8 DTT channels).

The new law allows broadcasters to merge or integrate their TV companies as long as the new company does not reach a combined 27 per cent audience share or have more than two DTT multiplexes.

TV channels will have to dedicate 51 per cent of their annual programming to European productions, of which 10 per cent will come from independent production companies. The broadcasters are obliged to invest 5 per cent (6 per cent in state-owned channels' case) of their total annual revenues in European productions (cinema, TV movies, TV series, documentaries and animation).

The new law extends the TV licences to a 15-year period (currently, it is only for 10 years) with automatic renewals and limits the broadcasting of certain encrypted content (pornography, violent scenes) to particular slots (from 10pm to 6 am). It also toughens fines for breaking advertising limits and broadcasting inadequate content.