Politics 15/12/2021

Media law agreement establishes €15m "minimum" for productions in co-official languages

Republicans will vote in favour of the budget despite the lack of quotas on Netflix

3 min
Pedro Sánchez greeting Gabriel Rufián after the vote in Congress on the budgets.

MadridThe Republican Left of Catalonia (ERC) and the Spanish Socialist Workers' Party (PSOE) have finally reached an agreement over the new Spanish media law, which also includes ERC's support for the budget budget. "ERC protects Catalan in the media law and facilitates the approval of the state budget to give impetus to the negotiation process," ERC reported in a brief statement.

Socialists and Republicans have been negotiating discreetly for days after the deal they sealed a few weeks ago broke down. The 6% quota they agreed online streaming platforms would have to allocate to productions in Spain's three co-official languages (Basque, Catalan and Galician) left out companies based outside the state, such as Netflix and HBO. It would only affect platforms based in Spain, such as Movistar and Atresmedia. That is why the way to protect Catalan ended up being a different one: to force big platforms to spend part of their income to finance European productions in these languages.

The agreement made public by ERC establishes that major platforms, whether or not they are based in Spain, will allocate "a minimum of €15m" to productions in co-official languages. The law stipulates that all platforms operating in Spain must allocate 5% of their income to European productions, which ERC and the Spanish government estimate to be around €140m per year. Of this €140m, it is estimated that 70% comes from independent productions, that is, about €98m. The agreement foresees that 15% of this €98m will be for co-official languages, that is to say, around €15m. According to the press release, this figure will "not be linked to the budget". Therefore, it will be platforms and not the administrations that will have to pay up. In addition, Republicans and Socialists have also agreed to create a "fund" for dubbing and subtitling productions that the platforms will have to include in their catalogues. This fund will be paid for by the State.

The agreement between socialists and republicans also specifies that the Consell de l'Audiovisual de Catalunya (CAC) will continue to be the body "responsible for settling dubbing conflicts with the platforms" and the one that will have "sanctioning capacity" over Catalan platforms. It also incorporates Catalan sign language and will ensure that "a minimum of 15% of the public linear television production in the State is in Catalan, Basque or Galician". In the first deal ERC reached with PSOE already agreed to create a fund of up to €10.5m to "encourage the creation of audiovisual content" in co-official languages.

Support to the state budget

The media law deal entailed ERC's support of the budget. Last week, ERC presented 16 amendments in the Senate and warned that their support was not guaranteed. It was a manoeuvre to put pressure on the Socialists which threatened to delay the budget, which now is back on track.

As well as the media law, ERC also negotiated for Catalan police's retirement conditions to be equalled to Spanish police, meaning all will be able to retire aged 60 as of 2022.

Stability in exchange for dialogue

After the agreement was revealed, the assistant general secretary of ERC, Marta Vilalta, has defended the deal claiming that not only it is beneficial for Catalan in the media, but also it allows "to provide firmness" to the process of political negotiation that the two governments have opened. That is to say, ERC gives the government in Madrid stability so that it can approve the budget and continue governing and, in exchange, this allows the negotiating table to continue looking for a negotiated solution to the political conflict. "The next meeting will be in January and we believe that this is the path we have to follow," she explained.