Public channel RTVE faces funding crisis

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SPAIN’S public broadcaster, RTVE, is in the midst of an unprecedented crisis.

After the company director was sacked last year, and the Chairman Leopoldo González Echenique resigned in September, the company’s debts have been reported at over €700 million and increasing. 

RTVE’s financial difficulties are due mostly to a massive drop in income. The first came in 2009 when the then prime minister, José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero, decided it would no longer be able to show advertisements, taking away some €450 million in one lump.

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The idea was that the private channels would contribute to funding RTVE from the extra advertising it was assumed they would pick up. But over the last five years, their contribution has steadily fallen.

The second blow came when RTVE’s state funding was cut by 30 per cent between 2010 and 2013 as part of government austerity measures.

One of the options for recovery being looked into is to follow the British and French model of paying some kind of license fee. “But nobody has ever dared to do so here,” says Alejandro Perales, president of the Association of Communication Consumers, and who says a mix of license fee, state funding, and limited advertising is the best solution.

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