New financial setback to RTVE

Financial problems are piling up on the state-owned group RTVE, operator of TV channel La Primera. Following the recent €200 million cut in state subsides approved by the Government to tackle its deficit, the Telecommunications Market Commission (CMT) has decided to temporarily suspend the additional payment of around €50m that telco operators had been ordered to make. The CMT has accepted Telefonica and Vodafone’s appeals against its own prior decision to oblige them to pay more cover RTVE’s losses.

The CMT had ruled that the funds already provided did not meet the legal taxes required on revenues of 0.9 per cent, 1.5 per cent and 3 per cent, respectively imposed on those players to finance the state-owned TV company after it was banned from accepting advertising. As a result, another €50 million was required.

Telefonica, which had already paid €106 million, had to make another payment of €38 million to RTVE to comply with the law. Other telco operators like Vodafone and Orange also had to pay around €10 million with pay-TV operators and private TV broadcasters also paying more.

In 2010, RTVE collected €1.14 billion revenues from state subsidies (€579 million), radio-electric tax (€250 million), telco tax (€187 million), pay TV tax (€90 million), besides other €32 million from sales. The state-owned group had argued that a €64 million finding gap needed to be filled.

The Spanish telco tax to finance RTVE is under scrutiny by the European Court after the case was reported to the European authorities by the telco companies. Brussels supports their demand on the grounds that the 0.9 per cent taxes may limit their investments in networks and the provision of services.

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