Spain allows the sale or lease of DTT licences

From David Del Valle in Madrid

The Spanish Government is finalising an overall TV law (Ley General Audiovisual) that will allow broadcasters to sell or lease their DTT licences whose renewal will be made automatic for 15 years periods (the current law only permits up to 10 years subject to Government’s approval).

The sale or lease of TV licences will be subject to several conditions, though, such as the licencees will have to wait until 5 years from the awarding to sell or rent them and will not be able to lease more than 50 per cent of their DTT capacity. In addition, if a broadcaster with a DTT licence takes more than one year to commence transmissions it will automatically lose the licence.

The new legislation will toughen fines to be imposed on those TV channels which do not meet with their obligations to invest in cinema or when they break ad limits or change programming at the last minute. Fines will vary from E1 million to up to cancelling the licence. The law will pave the way for the creation of an Audiovisual Committee, Consejo Estatal de Medios Audiovisuales, an independent body, elected by the Parliament, to oversee transparency and pluralism and with a 6 year mandate.

The new legislation states that TV channels will dedicate 51 per cent of its annual broadcasting time to European production. To boost the production industry, 10 per cent will be reserved for independent production companies. Channels will also be obliged to subtitle 75 per cent of the programmes with two hours a week with sign language.

Broadcasters will have to invest 5 per cent of their annual revenues in European cinema, of which 60 per cent will be dedicated to feature films, short films and TV movies. Channels will not be able to change their programming at the last minute, they will have to do it three days in advance. As for advertising, the limit per hour will be 12 minutes allowing another 5 minutes for auto promotions. Films and news programmes will be able to have an ad break every 30 minutes and the same will be applied to children's programmes as long as they last more than half an hour. Product emplacement is permitted in TV series, films and documentaries.

Finally, the new law will pave the legal way for the development of Mobile TV whose exploitation will require a licence. The legislation will allow both free-to-air and encrypted TV services, with at least 15 per cent of all content specifically adapted to mobile TV screens.

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