Spain: TV sector to be more flexible

Spanish TV broadcasters have received a boost with news the government is planning to change a law which limits companies to having stakes of less than 5% in two different broadcasters.

Vice-president Teresa Fernández de la Vega justified this measure by saying the outcome of the decision should be "to reinforce financially the TV companies which are affected by the advertising downturn and at the same time to allow their capitalization and synergies".

The new law establishes that the same person or entity can have more than 5% in more than one TV company on condition their average share of the broadcasters in which it is present is not higher than 27% of the total share. The law also allows the merging of the broadcasters, provided that they do not own more than 27% of share and that the existence of three private national broadcasters with a different content philosophy is maintained.

However, the new law prevents the same company or person from having rights over a slice of the public radioelectric spectrum, either on their own or by means of significant shares, superior to the technical capacity of the national coverage multiplexes and a regional multiplex.

As for the public broadcasters the new law establishes some limits. In the case of the national public broadcaster RTVE the government won't be able to book or give to the public broadcasters more than 25% of the radioelectric spectrum space. In the case of the autonomous and local TV channels this limit will go up to 50%.

As for the participation of persons from non-EU countries, these will abide by the reciprocity principle (ie they can invest here if we can invest there) as long as it is not applied under a retroactive principle.

Finally the new law establishes the obligation for the national DTT broadcasters to put together their contents for at least one satellite distributor so those citizens who cannot access terrestrial coverage can do so via satellite.