Spain's channels must cut down on ads

The European Commission is pressuring Spain's government to force broadcasters to reduce advertisements in their transmissions. Spain's digitalization is causing broadcasters to begin realizing a business model based solely on advertising will not add up with so many new channels.

As Rapid TV News reported earlier this week, Commercial Channels Association UTECA has asked public broadcasters to totally stop accepting advertisements on reaching analogue switch off in April 2010. But users association AUC does not want to go so far, instead recommending that national public broadcaster Televisión Española (TVE) cut down on advertising to give national private broadcasters an easier way to make business on the digital era.

The problem is if TVE cuts down on advertising, since it continues to lose great sums of public money already, it will have to get more money from public funds and this will have to be paid by citizens.

However, the European Commission is pressuring Spain's government to force broadcasters to reduce advertisements in their transmissions anyway, since they surpass the limits of the Television Without Borders directive. The Commission opened a file on the matter in July 2007 after a study made in 2005 and 2006 revealed Spain's main national public and private broadcasters break the limit of 12 minutes per hour of ads and teleshopping.

The European Comission has also critiziced Spain for allowing forms of “concealed” advertisements such as product placements and telepromotion but Spain has failed to accept these count as advertising.

In July 2007 the EU informed the Spanish goverment this way of thinking "clearly" violates European TV advertising law. Spanish authorities responded three months later to this report but they did not accept to adjust its interpretation to the European directive.

“Spain hasn't taken the right measures in order to guarantee the respect to the European advertising limit,” said Viviane Reding, the Media and Information Society Commissioner (pictured, above). If Spain does not comply, the Commissioner will take the case to the European Court of Justice. On average the Comission gives countries two months to answer its requirements.

This 12 minute advertising limit aims to protect the viewers from an excess of advertising and at the same time to promote a TV model based on quality.

Now that the European Commission comes back with the subject, Spain's Telecommunications Secretary Francisco Ros has assured that the present government will abide by the European directive on advertising in order to adapt it to the European framework. Some government sources asserted the government is "really working on this" for a "quick transposition to the European directive" on audiovisual media. Europe has a new law on audiovisual media approved four months ago which maintains the 12 minute advertising limit for all public and private broadcasters. All European member states have an ultimate limit to adapt and abide by the new directive by next December 19.