The European Commission has approved the new tax-based funding system for the Spanish public broadcaster RTVE, on which it had opened a formal investigation under EU state aid rules in December 2009. Spain abolished advertising and other commercial activities of RTVE and replaced this source of income by new taxes on TV and telecommunications operators. The Commission had doubts concerning the compatibility of the new taxes with EU law, in particular the rules on electronic communications networks and services. However, the Commission has now concluded that the compatibility of the aid to RTVE is not affected by the legality of the new taxes and that the measure is in line with the state aid rules, because it ensures that RTVE will not be overcompensated for providing public broadcasting services. The new Spanish law of 1 September 2009 provides that advertising, teleshopping; merchandising and pay-per-view services at RTVE will be discontinued with immediate effect. Spain intends to compensate RTVE for the abolition of these revenues with specifically dedicated income, generated from two new fiscal measures and one existing measure, in addition to the existing state financing of RTVE
Google is bowing to the demands of three European governments and says it will begin surrendering the data it improperly collected over unsecured wireless networks
Eric E. Schmidt, Google’s chief executive, told The Financial Times in an interview in London that within the next two days, the company would share the data with regulators in Germany, Spain and France. The data is thought to include fragments of personal information like e-mail and bank account numbers. Google had previously resisted requests from European officials and privacy advocates to hand over the data, saying it needed time to review legal issues. Last month, Google revealed it had been inadvertently collecting 600 gigabytes of personal data, saying that the roving, camera-mounted cars in its Street View program had collected not only photographs of neighborhoods but snippets of private information from people whose personal Wi-Fi networks were left unencrypted. In Thursday’s interview, Mr. Schmidt said that the software code responsible for the data collection was in “clear violation” of Google’s rules. Mr. Schmidt also said that Google would make public the results of internal and external audits of its Wi-Fi data collection practices.
More than 10,000 people have signed up for Spanish daily newspaper El Mundo’s paid news application for the Internet since it was launched at the beginning of March, the company said Sunday. The application, called Orbyt (www.orbyt.es), provides subscribers with full access to the paper edition of the centre-right newspaper as well as a range of other services including archives, video reports and news commentary. The service costs EUR 14.99 per month or EUR 0.60 per day. El Mundo has continued to provide free access to the content of its website (www.elmundo.es) which is the world’s most visited Spanish-language media site, drawing visitors from Spain as well as across Latin America. The site, which is frequently updated by a team of 20 journalists, publishes shorter versions of articles from the paper edition. The newspaper expects the number of subscribers to its paid news application to get a boost from the launch of an application for Apple’s iPad tablet computer which hit stores in Spain on Friday. El Mundo, controlled by Italy’s top publisher RCS MediaGroup which also issues Italy’s biggest-selling daily Corriere della Sera, is the first – and so far only – major daily in Spain with a paid news application.
It has been the setting for many a spaghetti western, but now Hollywood has warned that Spain could be facing high noon over its appalling record of movie piracy, with a future devoid of DVDs. The unauthorised downloading of films from the internet is so rife, with film-makers complaining that a legal void makes people think movies are free, that Spain could become the first European country to be abandoned by Hollywood studios. Sony’s threat, which affects DVDs but not cinemas, would put Spain on a par with South Korea, which most studios have abandoned because of a similar free-for-all internet culture. While cinema audiences have declined slowly in Spain, sales and rentals of DVDs have plummeted as high-speed broadband make streaming and downloading easier. As a result, three out of four video shops in Spain closed in the five years to 2009. Spending on DVDs can be as low as 10 percent of the level in the UK or Germany. The statistics show that 30 percent of the Spanish population uses file-sharing sites, against an average of 15 percent in the rest of Europe.” A recent report by the Paris-based TERA consultancy on internet piracy in Europe warned Spain had the highest piracy rate and that spending on DVDs had fallen six times faster than in the UK . The report estimated that the film and television industry lost about EUR 900m in Spain as a result of piracy in 2008 – almost twice as much as the music business lost. Internet piracy was causing some 13,000 jobs losses a year in Spain, the report said
Portuguese regulator blocks Prisa Media Capital stake sale
Spanish media company Prisa confirmed Portuguese antitrust regulators have blocked its planned sale of a stake in affiliate Media Capitalto Portuguese fund Ongoing Investments as a result of competition concerns. Prisa said on Wednesday the deal for a 35 percent stake was stopped as it had not previously sold its stake in Impresia, the controlling company of the second most popular Portuguese television channel and direct competitor to Media Capital. Ongoing Investment had until Wednesday to carry out the acquisition, which would have helped cut Prisa’s debt, currently being restructured, by around EUR 100m. In recent weeks speculation had mounted in the media that Ongoing could have pulled out of the deal, particularly after Prisa’s tie-up with U.S. fund Liberty, which will result in the American fund gaining majority capital control over the Spanish company.
Spanish daily newspaper El Mundo said Thursday it would launch a paid news application for the Internet and smartphones like Apple’s iPhone next week but would keep access to its website free. The new application called Orbyt will from Monday provide subscribers with full access to the paper edition of El Mundo as well as a range of other services including archives, video reports and news commentary. It will cost EUR 14.99 per month or EUR 0.60 per day, said El Mundo director Pedro Ramirez, who added an application was under development as well for Apple’s soon-to-be-released iPad tablet computer. The centre-right newspaper, controlled by Italy’s top publisher RCS MediaGroup which also publishes Italy’s biggest-selling daily, Corriere della Sera, will become the first major Spanish daily with a paid news application. El Mundo will continue to provide free access to the content of its website which is the world’s most visited Spanish-language media website, drawing visitors from Spain as well as across Latin America. Ramirez said El Mundo’s new paid news application could be transformed into an “electronic kiosk” that provides content from other newspapers
Spain’s main public television station TVE1 has experienced a bump in its ratings since it stopped airing advertisements on January 1, a newspaper reported on Tuesday. The station obtained an audience share of 19.5 percent during the first 10 days of the year compared to 16.6 percent during the entire month of December, according to an internal study cited by the online edition of El Pais. The ratings rise has been greatest when it comes to films. The 2004 movie National Treasure starring Nicolas Cage obtained a market share of 30.5 percent when it aired on Sunday night, an increase of 8.5 percentage points over the average for the same time slot in December. Last year the European Commission warned that Spain faces possible court action for failing to ensure that its television stations comply with a European Union-wide limit of 12 minutes of adverts per hour. Spain’s main association of advertisers, meanwhile, has warned that “saturation advertising” on television was hurting the effectiveness of their messages and turning off viewers. Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero’s socialist government axed all commercial advertising on Spain’s two public channels, TVE1 and TVE2, as of 1 January. The two stations had been broadcasting 10 minutes of adverts per hour.