TV networks may no longer have to contribute

Days after Gallic paybox Canal Plus hiked coin for the French film biz, TV support for local movies in Spain looks set to drop.

Spain’s supreme court has questioned the legality of TV quotas, enforced by local licenses, that oblige local commercial broadcasters to invest 5% of their revenues in Spanish or European feature films or TV movies.

Responding to a complaint lodged in 2004 by commercial broadcast lobby Uteca, the court has declared that neither the European Union’s Television Without Frontiers Directive nor the broadcasting licenses justify the quotas. The supreme court has asked Spain’s constitutional authorities to rule on whether the quotas breach the constitution.

The news has prompted disquiet among local producers, who fear the loss of coin.

Thanks largely to quotas, Spanish broadcasters spent 124.3 million ($177.7 million) co-producing or pre-buying Spanish movies in 2007, the last year for which records are available.

Even if the quotas are approved, coin looks set to decrease. A new General Audiovisual Law, due to be passed by Spain’s lower house, will probably cut the quotas from 5% to 3% of private webs’ revenues. Furthermore, broadcaster revs are plunging, battered by the TV ad slump. First nine-month revs at Telecinco and Antena 3 plunged 41% and 21%, respectively.

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