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Report suggests financing changes for RTVE

Mixed public-private system recommended

MADRID Pubcaster RTVE should adopt a mixed financing system of capped ad revenues and public subsidies common in the rest of Europe, a government-appointed committee recommended Monday.

The report has to be debated in parliament and transformed into regulation. But, despite industry griping that the report is outmoded and none of the committee members are TV professionals, its conclusions give some moral authority to Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero’s socialist government to tackle a contradiction of Spain’s film and TV landscape: that an ad-financed RTVE often behaves more like a commercial than a public service operator.

RTVE’s large costs (EUR 1.56 billion ($2 billion) vastly outweighed its revenues ($1.1 billion) in 2004. Bank loans have allowed it to sustain huge yearly losses, however, running up a gargantuan cumed deficit of $9.8 billion.

Per the committee, ad coin should be capped at 40% of RTVE’s yearly budget, or at most 9 minutes of commercial breaks an hour, compared to 12 minutes under the current system. Remaining RTVE finance would come from program sales and merchandising, and government subsidy, drawn from Spain’s general budget, capped at a maximum 50% of RTVE’s budget.

The report also recommends that the state should assume RTVE’s accumulated debt, slashing its weighty financial costs, some $335 million in 2004.

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