The Audiovisual Law betrays independent producers at the last moment

One word that changes everything. The PSOE has included at the last moment an amendment to the General Law of Audiovisual Communication that has put the entire sector of independent producers in Spain in check. On paper they have only crossed out the word "a" provider to change it to "said" provider, but with this they completely transform the definition of "independent producer" and could alter the Spanish audiovisual board as we know it.

Atresmedia denounces that the new audiovisual law discriminates against it before international platforms

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The new law contemplates bonuses for national production companies that may be affected by the landing of large platforms and streaming services. For example, Netflix or HBO must pay 5% of their profits obtained in Spain to independent companies. Until now there was no problem. With amendment 790 – more than a thousand have been presented – they recognize production companies dependent on private television or platforms as independent. A last-minute lurch that true indie producers have received with "deep stupor".

“Until now, television production companies were excluded from the independent production concert because they had a direct dependency on their broadcast channel. The last minute maneuver carried out by the PSOE behind the scenes affects us because it allows unfair competition”, defends Jordi Oliva, president of PROA, the federation of independent producers. Oliva speaks on behalf of the PAP – Audiovisual Platform for Independent Producers –, which includes 600 companies and has launched a statement against this amendment. "We do not have a television financial muscle behind us, we are much smaller and defenseless."

The production companies referred to in the law would be La Fábrica de la Tele, Bulldog or Telecinco Cinema in the case of Mediaset, or Buendía Estudios in the case of Atresmedia. What the norm dictates from now on is that, if they produce a project for another television or platform – let's say Netflix – they will benefit from the same advantages as small production companies. “They included it a couple of days ago and it was the political parties that alerted us”, reveals Jordi Oliva.

We do not have a television financial muscle behind us, we are much smaller and defenseless

Jordi Oliva — PROA Producer

What the group of independent producers criticizes are the forms. "Our astonishment and complaint goes against the Government of Spain, which is supposed to be progressive and has to protect its own identity culture, and it turns out that it yields to the pressure of private television", laments the president of PROA. “With this concentration, more than 25,000 jobs are put at risk, of which more than 17,000 can be lost and the remaining 7,000 become precarious,” denounces the PAP.

The unions do not support either.

The unions also arrive desperate at the imminent approval of the new General Law of Audiovisual Communication. This Thursday the amendments to a bill that proposes many more debates than the linguistic ones. Workers' Commissions (CCOO) has called an emergency conference after weeks of negotiation with the different political groups to modify a law that "benefits business lobbies, especially private ones."

The general secretary of the CCOO, Cristina Bermejo, has stated that the law promoted by the PSOE with the main support of the ERC and PNV "adds a further twist to what was already an ultra-liberal law of the PP of 2012". The change promoted by the Government of Mariano Rajoy on Zapatero's law of 2010 allowed the autonomous communities to choose which model they preferred to manage their public television stations –whether a public, private or mixed one– and opened the door to the outsourcing of news programs. None of this changes with the new law that unions.

CCOO, UGT and CGT criticize the “absolute lack of references to the labor dimension of a sector that claims to be the audiovisual Hub of Europe”. President Pedro Sánchez announced a budget of 1,600 million euros for this project, with which they want to attract investment from international companies in the sector, either to attract headquarters or to produce from Spain.

The new Audiovisual Law of the PSOE gives a further twist to what was already an ultraliberal law of the PP in 2012

Cristina Bermejo — Secretary General of the CCOO

"Issues that promote the creation of quality employment, labor guarantees, conciliation and co-responsibility, occupational health and effective equality between women and men are not specified," said Bermejo. CGT has emphasized that, with the previous change in the Audiovisual Law, "those who suffered the consequences were the workers: 861 Telemadrid employees were fired", José Ángel Giménez, general secretary, has influenced. "These laws have dire consequences for people's lives."

The unions have focused above all on its effects on public television, since according to the CCOO "deepens even more into a mercantilist model" at the service of private operators. They criticize that it does not make a clear definition of "public service" for all providers, both private and public, and that it does not "ensure" universal and free access by society to "plural information, with freedom of expression and editorial responsibility.

"What public television networks need is a stable financing system, which is what guarantees their independence," said UGT. Something that is aggravated in the case of RTVE, which according to the unions the law does not protect and which leaves the possibility of cutting this annual budget in the hands of "the politician on duty". "We do not rule out the return of advertising to public television", they have admitted from UGT.

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