Read in Catalan

Two weeks later, a deal has been done. The Spanish government and the Catalan Republican Left - leader of the governing coalition in Catalonia - have reached an agreement to "guarantee Catalan in the audiovisual law". The Republicans (ERC) have accepted that the large international streaming platforms, such as Netflix and HBO Max, cannot be forced to put up a minimum quota of their catalogue in Spain's co-official languages, Catalan, Basque and Galician. In return, however, the pro-independence party has made some headway on other fronts. For example, that about 15 million euros will be allocated to audiovisual production in the three minoritized languages, paid for by all the platforms regardless of where they are based. Also the creation of a fund for dubbing and subtitling. In return, ERC guarantees to vote for the Spanish government budget in its path through the Senate.

The negotiating teams started from the premise that platforms such as Netflix could not be forced to provide a quota of their catalogue in the three main co-official languages, but they could be required to allocate part of their income to finance productions in Catalan, Basque and Galician. From this starting point, the agreement was built. According to the ERC statement, "all platforms that operate in the state, whether they have their headquarters within the state or not, will have to finance audiovisual productions in Catalan every year." The PSOE validated the formula because it fits with the European directive, as confirmed by its spokesperson Héctor Gómez.



So what is the fine print behind all this? First of all, according to the ERC statement, "every year a minimum of 15 million euros will be allocated" to production in Catalan, Basque and Galician. This sum is an estimate derived from the obligation established by Article 117 of the law on platforms to finance independent productions. Specifically, they will be required to invest 5% of their declared profits from Spain in European production, that is, about 140 million euros for all the streaming platforms based on 2020 figures. Of this amount, 70% (98 million) must be allocated to independent production and 15% of that 70% (14.7 million) on co-official languages. According to ERC, this amount would allow to have productions like the acclaimed series Merlí or Polseres Vermelles ("The Red Band Society") or the movie Pa Negre ("Black Bread") every year. 

This production requirement will be able to be delivered in different ways, either through direct participation in content production, through the acquisition of distribution and screening rights or through a direct contribution to the Institute of Cinematography's protection fund. This money will be in addition to the amounts already agreed in earlier negotiations: a fund of 10.5 million euros to "encourage the creation of audiovisual content" in the co-official languages. This was approved through a transactional amendment.

As well, as a complementary measure, the creation of "a dubbing and subtitling fund that the platforms will have to incorporate into their catalogues" has been agreed. According to ERC, this would guarantee that "The Squid Game of the day would be dubbed into Catalan". The size of this fund is not quantified in the statement.

The agreement announced by ERC also incorporates other measures in the audiovisual field, such as that the Catalan Audiovisual Council (CAC) being the body for resolving conflicts in dubbing with the platforms, the incorporation of Catalan sign language and the guarantee that the at least 15% of the state's public terrestrial television (RTVE) production is in Catalan, Basque or Galician. According to ERC, this implies "more income for audiovisual production in the Catalan language." The 6% share of the catalogue in co-official languages, as ​initially agreed, only covers platforms based in Spain.



Two weeks of negotiation

Alarms had been ringing on the proposed audiovisual law since September when the first draft of the bill became known, but the controversy exploded two weeks ago, when the version of the bill negotiated with ERC was passed by the Spanish cabinet, and the real story leaked out: that the share of 6% of content to be in the co-official languages, as previously announced by ERC, only applied to the platforms based in Spain, such as Filmin or Movistar, and left out the key international platforms such as Netflix, HBO Max, Amazon Prime Video and Disney +. The Catalan party then threatened to overturn the Spanish budget, on which its votes are key. The negotiating teams met again immediately, and in recent days they have been exchanging numerous documents to find an alternative.

With this new agreement, then, ERC will vote in favour of the budget in the Senate as well.