Politics 30/11/2021

The Spanish government warns that Catalan language quotas cannot be imposed on platforms such as Netflix or HBO

According to the Ministry of Economy, despite the pact with ERC, European regulations only allows to impose quotas on companies based in Spain

2 min
Nadia Calviño during the Council of Ministers press conference.

MadridThe Spanish government has poured cold water on the protection of Catalan on platforms that offer online content. The Council of Ministers has approved the audiovisual bill this Tuesday, but sources from the Ministry of Economy have clarified that the 6% quota for co-official languages the executive agreed with ERC can only be applied to platforms based in Spain. Thus, for example, neither Netflix nor HBO would be obliged to reserve 6% of their catalogue for productions in Basque, Catalan and Galician.

According to Spanish government sources, European framework legislation does not allow these international platforms to be obliged to do so, and they add that ERC is aware of the final draft of the law. The bill has now been sent to the Spanish parliament, where it can still be modified through amendments, and finally it will have to be approved in the plenary, where the vote of the Catalan pro-independence parties will be key for it to go ahead. In fact, the ERC spokesman in the Spanish parliament, Gabriel Rufian, already warned this morning that the law "will have to be improved" during the amendments process because what there is now is a "minimum agreement". Rufian himself argued on Tuesday that they had never spoken of "any specific company", referring to Netflix. However, when the agreement was presented ERC used Netflix as an example of how the Catalan language catalogue of these companies would change.

PDECat spokesman Ferran Bel spoke along the same lines. He insisted that "it is not a question of quotas" and that the important thing is to find a way to really force the platforms. PDECat sources say that they had already warned ERC of this risk of the country of origin principle and the agreement has been closed in a "hasty" way.

Hasty agreement

The reality is that there is an open legal debate on whether Spain can force platforms not based in the State to comply with a language quota. The expert and professor of law and economics at the European University Guillermo Rocafort has explained to Europa Press that this possibility would exist, but sources in the audiovisual sector have ruled it out, arguing that they have "many doubts".

The ones that surely are obliged to comply with the 6% quota would be the statewide platforms such as Filmin (which already complies with it), Movistar+, Mitele or Atresplayer. On the other hand, with Netflix or HBO, Spanish government sources believe that they would have to act "in other ways" such as economic incentives for production in co-official languages. In fact, the PSOE has always been opposed to setting conditions for international platforms because the aim of the law is to turn Spain into an international audiovisual hub. "We have always thought that it is better to act through incentives," say sources from the Socialist parliamentary group.

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