EU court backs Spain’s TV quotas

Ruling throws out union's 2007 action

MADRID — In a crucial decision for Europe’s film industries, the European Union Court of Justice in Luxembourg has ratified Spain’s TV quota for investment in local films.

The ruling throws out an action brought by Spain’s Uteca commercial TV union in 2007, petitioning the court to annul the quota.

The 10-year-old quota system forces Spanish broadcasters to invest 5% of their annual revenues pre-buying European films, TV movies, docus or pilot animation series.

Some 60% of investment must be in works in one of the country’s official languages — Spanish, Catalan, Basque or Galician.

In its rulings, the Court said the quotas were a justified adaptation of the 1997 EU Television Without Frontiers Directive that did not break antitrust laws.

As Spanish broadcasters’ revenues spiraled downward this decade, the quota has become the backbone of local film finance.

In 2007, pubcaster RTVE, along with commercial networks Telecinco, Antena 3 TV and paybox Sogecable collectively invested 110 million euros ($135.9 million) in movies to meet the quota obligations.

A court annulment could have set the precedent for the abolition of a similar quota system in France where Gallic TV operators invested $359.7 million in local movies in 2007.

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