ERC wants to force audiovisual platforms to broadcast series already dubbed into Catalan | Catalonia

ERC spokesman Gabriel Rufián, upon his arrival at the Board of Spokespersons held this Monday in Congress.
ERC spokesman Gabriel Rufián, upon his arrival at the Board of Spokespersons held this Monday in Congress.Chema Moya (EFE)

The Government and ERC are trying to close against the clock an agreement that unblocks the future of the Audiovisual Law and, on the rebound, of the General State Budgets (PGE). Republican sources assured this Friday that “for the first time” the Executive of Pedro Sánchez is inclined to address the issue of financing audiovisual production in Catalan. This change of position, together with reforms in the text that shield the obligation of platforms to use films and series already dubbed and subtitled thanks to subsidies from the Generalitat, puts an agreement on track again that seems increasingly possible.

Republicans have mixed up both negotiations and, last Thursday, increased the pressure by presenting amendments to the bill that is being debated in the Senate. Although the Budgets can also prosper, in ERC they have guaranteed to have an open door for some type of modification in the PGE and thus try to pressure more transfers towards the protection of Catalan – and by extension to the rest of the co-official languages ​​- in the regulation that will regulate the operation of audiovisual platforms such as Netflix, HBO Max, Disney + or Amazon Prime.

The positions are so close already, after intense negotiations between the Government and the Generalitat, that the Executive were very surprised that the pact could not be closed on Thursday, before ERC presented the amendments in the Senate. Everything was ready in the middle of the afternoon, before 6:00 p.m., the deadline to register the amendments. Various sources from the Executive pointed out that the agreement had been made and in ERC they also reported that they were very close. But they finally showed up. In La Moncloa they interpret that it was more for political reasons of ERC, very pressured by Junts, than for the negotiation itself, already well advanced. The first vice president and head of the law, Nadia Calviño, pointed out in the press conference after the Council of Ministers up to three times that the negotiation is going very well, although she did not want to give details. Calviño insisted on the idea of ​​making compatible the Government’s objective of turning Spain into a great world center for audiovisual production and the need to protect co-official languages, “something to which we are totally committed.”

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Calviño puts this prevention because the Economy wants to avoid at all costs that excessive obligations for large international platforms such as Netflix, which has bet heavily on Spain, drive away their investments. The vice president insisted that anything that is agreed will have to be “in line with the community directive”, which according to the interpretation of Economy prevents forcing multinationals based outside of Spain to have 6% of content in co-official languages, something that it can be forced for national platforms.

The Government trusts that it has convinced ERC of this extreme and now among the Republicans and the Executive they are looking for ways that do not touch Article 3 of the law, which sets the scope of application and clearly leaves out international platforms. These days between the Government and the Generalitat many alternative formulas have been considered, but they all start from the basis of not touching that idea that for the Economy is insurmountable by the European directive.

The protection of co-official languages, ERC sources explain, would then imply clarifications in the articles. This would be through two lines. The first would be the shielding of the obligation for all platforms (some already do) to use the material in Catalan that is already available, as a result of the Generalitat’s dubbing and subtitling subsidy policies. Republicans also believe that the Government has to create its own fund to further stimulate the dubbing of various products into the co-official languages. The disagreement now lies in how much the game should make up.

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Only the Catalan Department of Culture, for example, allocates about three million euros per year to dub and subtitle films and series. In 2021, thanks to this aid aimed at film distribution companies, more than 1,700 contents were dubbed between series and films. In 2018, for example, in addition to dubbing 110 feature films in Catalan and subtitling 469, Cultura provided subtitles for 380 episodes of 43 series seasons. Disney or Movistar +, among others, already use them.

Republican sources also hope to gain margin of protection in the field of production, a request that they are also trying to send to the Government from PROA, the federation of state-level audiovisual producers. In the party of Gabriel Rufián, its spokesperson in Congress, it fell like a jug of cold water that the draft approved by the Government would leave platforms without headquarters in Spain out of the obligation to include 6% of productions in co-official languages ​​in your catalogs. The approach is different now and they want new products to be financed through a share of their income in Spain, be they series or movies.

In ERC they believe that in the so-called regulation of the obligation of advance financing (that the platforms allocate 5% of their income in Spain to pay for the creation of content) it is possible to go further and it is possible to set a sub-quota in Catalan or other Co-official languages ​​for “independent productions”.

According to the same sources, the Government has proposed that the sub-quota be 0.7% but Republicans aspire to more than 1%. This would imply, according to their calculations, about 15 million euros for products in Catalan, Basque or Galician.

They also hope that the text of the audiovisual law reflects a certain authority of the Consell Audiovisual de Catalunya (CAC) to act as arbitrator in ensuring the quality of dubbing and that the platforms comply with this obligation. The question is therefore already in the drafting, but the underlying political agreement seems to be channeled and therefore the Budgets as well. But first you have to sign the pact.

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Contributions to the Film Protection Fund

Advance financing of audiovisual production is the obligation that traditional televisions historically had to allocate money to new products with a European stamp. The preliminary draft on the branch approved by the Council of Ministers on November 30 makes this also apply to platforms such as Netflix or HBO Max and can be satisfied through three different channels.

These are: direct participation in the production of European works; the acquisition of exploitation rights or direct contribution to the Film Protection Fund of the Institute of Cinematography and Audiovisual Arts, which is the one that allows part of the subsidies to the cinema. The project of General State Budgets for 2022 already includes a 70 million euro item for this fund, which could be increased.

The platforms, according to the articles, will have to allocate (as private televisions already do) 5% of their income from the activity in Spain to finance any of these three options. Of course, with the exception that its annual income is greater than 10 million euros.

Of the 5% quota, according to the new law prepared by the Government, 70% must be dedicated to “independent productions.” The government’s proposal, according to ERC sources, is that 10% (that is, 0.7% of the total) be reserved exclusively for works in co-official languages. The current wording of the articles and that the republicans aspire to tweak is that the money is dedicated to productions in the official language of the State “or” in one of the official languages ​​of the Autonomous Communities.

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George Holan

George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.

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