The Government finished the elaboration of the new Audiovisual Law and will launch its public hearing this Friday, or next week at the latest. As of this date, the draft may begin to receive contributions from the different actors and sectors involved.
As confirmed invested, The idea is to be able to keep this process open for a month in order to send the final project to the Parliament at the beginning of 2021, in line with the deadlines set by the Secretary of State for Telecommunications who already presented the new Telecommunications Law a few weeks ago. Following its calendar of projects, it would only be necessary to close the new Cybersecurity Law that is already being prepared, as this newspaper already advanced.
In the case of Audiovisual Lawthe main objective is to transpose the European regulation of the sector approved in November 2018. Brussels says that the Member States have two years to adapt their local legislation to European laws, a term that in this case expires in November 2020, but that has been expanded due to the impact of the coronavirus pandemic.
The community standard seeks greater protection for children against audiovisual content, establish limits on advertising and promote European production. The rules will apply to television networks, and also to video-on-demand platforms, such as Netflix, HBO, Prime or Disney+and video distribution, such as YouTube and Facebookas well as live broadcasts on these platforms.
In the Spanish case, what will generate the most commotion will be the equalization of the duties of foreign national operators in capital issues such as Spanish film production or the RTVE rate. In this Law, the objective is that these new OTT platforms equate their tax burden to these players traditional, for the time being, contributing 5% of its operating income to finance European audiovisual production.
The case of RTVE
In the first of the cases, the platforms defend themselves by indicating that their current commitment to European production is much greater than what the Law will require of them and that more than meet this quota.
In the case of RTVE, its Financing Law must be modified to receive this new income, which in principle opens the door to other pending modifications such as the resizing of its structure, its staff or the way of electing its directors and president. However, from the Executive any change in the financing system of public television is ruled out.
However, the question is how the income of each operator will be established. At this point, the Executive believes that the best way is to respect the principle of country of origin established by the European Union. That is, calculate the tax based on the current corporate structures of Netflix and HBO.
In this sense, in principle it is not ruled out to ask some body such as the CNMC that makes any estimated calculation or requires them to declare their actual users in Spain.
On the other hand, imposing a specific rate for platforms such as Netflix is ruled out, as has been speculated in recent months. In this case, the Executive considers that a new tax burden on these companies can be channeled through the Google ratewhich will begin to be charged at the end of the third quarter of next year.
The so-called Google rate is based on the fact that large digital companies –Google, Amazon, Facebook or Twitter- Taxes equivalent to the economic activity they record are not taxed in our country. A group in which the Executive also includes audiovisual platforms in streaming.
In the case of the latter, it is argued that the payment should be made for the commercial use it makes of the personal data of its users, by offering them recommendations or sending commercial offers to their emails.