surinenglish

14 April 1988: Spanish government approves law to air privately run television

Antena 3 controllers preparing to go live in December 1989.
Antena 3 controllers preparing to go live in December 1989. / EFE
  • The law paved the way for the likes of Antena 3 and Telecinco to make their mark on the airways

On this day in 1988 the Spanish government passed a law to allow private companies to broadcast on Spanish television, paving the way for the likes of Antena 3 and Telecinco to make their mark on the airways.

The law was passed by 169 votes to 112, but all votes in favour of private television came from the socialist PSOEgovernment of the time. Then spokesperson, Pedro Bofil, said, “Freedom of information is growing thanks to the votes of the PSOE.”

Every other party in Spain’s lower house opposed the bill. Luis Ramallo, spokesperson for the Partido Popular (PP) said that the bill didn’t “regulate television freedom”, but was an “obsolete intervention, incomplete and without guarantees.”

The law was due to come into force on 1 January 1990 and at the time there were three companies vying for deals with the government: La Sociedad de Estudios de Televisión Independiente, which was an umbrella group including Radio Television Luxembourg and Antena 3, which belonged to the same group as the UK’s Granada, taken over by ITV in 2008, as well as America’s NBC. The third company was Univisión Canal 1.

The 1998 law stipulated that any future private television company would have to air for four hours a day and 32 hours per week and that a minimum of 15 per cent of the material would have to be the companies’ own, original content.

Forty per cent of programmes were to come from other European countries, 55 per cent had to be Spanish and at least 50 per cent of films would have to be Spanish.

Advertising could not take up more than 10 per cent of annual broadcasting hours and could not last for more than 10 minutes of airtime in any one commercial break.

Party political broadcasts were not permitted on private television channels.

On 26 August 1989 it was announced that the three companies to air private television programmes would be Antena 3, Gestevisión Telecinco and Sogecable. The first programmes would be shown on 3 April 1990 and the contracts would run for an initial period of 10 years, after which they could be renewed.

On 31 March 2010, the audiovisual communication law superseded the private television law passed in 1988. There are now upwards of 35 private national and regional television companies airing programmes on mainstream Spanish television.