The devil is in the details. On March 18, Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez announced the government will plow €1.6 billion ($1.9 billion) over 2021-25 into a Spain AVS Hub plan – España Hub Audiovisual de Europa in Spanish.
This was aimed, as he explained, to encourage big foreign players to shoot and set up production centers in Spain and also power up Spanish film and TV production
At the San Sebastian Festival on Wednesday, Sept. 22, addressing Spanish industry representatives and producers, government officials across an impressive range of ministries delivered the first Spain AVS Hub details.
Working with the Spanish Institute for Foreign Trade (ICEX), Spain’s ICAA state agency for cinema and the audiovisual arts, part of its Ministry of Culture, will put up €6 million ($7 million) as export aid to push the sales of Spanish films abroad, said ICAA director Beatriz Navas, in perhaps the biggest announcement of the day.
“We’ve got to give a suitcase to those who travel abroad so that they can say: If you produce with me, you’ll have some benefits,” Navas said, noting that overseas distribution incentives were offered by France, Italy and Switzerland.
All these initiatives form part of Spain AVS Plan, financed to the tune of €200 million ($234 million) by the so-called Componente 25, which forms part of Spain’s E.U-backed Recuperation, Transformation and Resilience push for post COVID-19 recovery.
The Ministry of Culture will receive €100 million ($117 million) of that, of which €20 million ($23 million) is tabbed for international, Navas added. The export distribution aid looks set to amount to €3 million ($3.5 million) in 2022 and the same amount for 2023.
In general the €100 million will be spread out over three years and finance the digitization of at least 100 companies, closing the gender gap in the film-TV sector and internationalization, Navas said.
Spain’s Ministry of Economic Affairs will use part of the other €100 million to strengthen funding for the ICEX Spanish Institute for Foreign Trade and Spanish Film Commission.
The ICAA will also make a one-off extra contribution to the Ibermedia fund for countries’ joint development, production and distribution in Ibero-America, said Navas.
The €200 million in play via Componente 25 is just part of a far bigger picture, however.
Roberto Sánchez, secretary of state for telecommunications and digital infrastructures, said that the government had received 450 proposals for improving the sector, budgeted at a total €5.5 billion ($6.4 billion). His ministry hopes to decide on the most appropriate this month so as to launch measures before the end of the year.
With €1.6 billion in play, the biggest Spain AVS Hub initiatives still have to be taken. And, notably, Sánchez said that there would be room for revision of measures taken this year in 2022, if required.
Also pending is a draft Audiovisual Communication Services Law, which he described as pat of the Hub, that currently contemplates a clause stipulating that for a significant percentage of TV series backed by global platforms, rights should revert to their independent producers after a 36 month license for joint exploitation with OTT players.
Approval of the bill by Spain’s Council of Ministers was put back from Tuesday but is said to be imminent.
What the San Sebastian press conference did serve to accomplish is to put a face to some of the main drivers of the Hub: Sánchez at Spain’s Ministry of Economic Affairs and Digital Transformation, the ICAA, ICEX and the Spain Film Commission. Sánchez emphasized, however, that ministerial support was much broader, involving Spain’s tax authorities and health service and Ministry of Foreign Affairs. It’s the first time the film and TV sector has received such across-the-board governmental support, he enthused to Variety.
In other AVS Hub moves, ICEX will attempt to employ film-TV specialists in key market offices, launch initiatives which generate more content, positioning Spain as a brand in the sector, and re-enforce public-sector promotion at festivals and markets, said María Peña, ICEX managing director.
“This is not an opportunity, this is the opportunity, we can’t miss this train,” said Carlos Rosado, president of the Spain Film Commission.
He added: “I had the honor to accompany recently the president of the government on his meetings with the key players in the U.S. industry. We’re on their radar. We can’t fail.”