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On March 24, the Spanish Government presented its plan to boost the audiovisual industry: “Spain, Europe’s audiovisual hub” (the “Plan”) in the framework of the “Digital Spain 2025 Agenda.” The Plan includes €1.603 billion in public investment between 2021 and 2025, with the aim of increasing Spain’s audiovisual production by 30% by 2025. It is a comprehensive action plan aimed at transforming the audiovisual environment as a whole. It does not only cover traditional audiovisual content, but also the digital multimedia and interactive ecosystem, as well as software development, video games–including eSports–transmedia content, immersive experience content with visual effects and virtual reality.
The Plan’s support for the Spanish audiovisual industry covers four areas, including the following 15 measures:
First area: promotion and digitization of audiovisual activities, internationalization, and investment attraction
The planned investment for this area is €240 million, covering four measures. The first entails the creation of the “Spain Audiovisual Hub Bureau,” a centralized point of contact to collect relevant available information on the industry and adding further information that could be useful for potential investors, both national and foreign.
It includes platforms to (i) produce and distribute audiovisual content in Spain; (ii) promote digital technologies; and (iii) boost and strengthen Spain’s audiovisual production companies.
To internationalize Spain’s audiovisual industry, the first area also includes two programs: one developed by the Ministry of Culture and Sport and ICEX España Exportación e Inversiones; and another to attract film crews and foreign investment.
Second area: improvement of financial and tax instruments
The planned investment for this area is €1.330 billion, including five measures with two main purposes: facilitating investors’ access to funding and implementing tax incentives for audiovisual production in Spain.
To promote less well-developed sectors within the audiovisual industry, like animation, visual effects or video game production, as well as emerging sectors such as virtual reality, eSports or events streaming, both the Spanish Official Credit Institute (ICO) and the National Innovation Entity (ENISA) will extend the type of projects eligible for funding. Also, for the sector as a whole, Spain’s Export Credit Agency (CESCE), COFIDES and ICO will implement mechanisms to facilitate access to loans and strengthen any financial instruments supporting the internationalization of the industry.
After the adoption of Royal Decree-Law 17/2020, Royal Decree-Law 34/2020 and the 2021 General State Budget Act in 2020, any implementation of tax incentives requires measures allowing them to be applied and ensuring compliance.
Third area: talent availability and development of human capital
The planned investment for this area is €15 million, including a single measure: implementing and disseminating training programs, including a program focused on digital economy employment, in cooperation with the Ministries of Education and Vocational Training, on the one hand, and Industry, Tourism and Commerce, on the other.
Fourth area: regulatory reforms and removal of administrative barriers
The planned investment for this area is €18 million, including five measures aimed at enhancing regulation and removing administrative barriers.
The first measure relates to the General Audiovisual Media Bill transposing Directive 2018/1808 on Audiovisual Media Services. As discussed in this blog entry, the bill was subject to public consultation. This new provision will update the applicable legislation and adapt it to the new market reality, imposing similar obligations on the new actors that have emerged in the audiovisual market due to digital technologies. Also, the new General Audiovisual Media Act will remove unreasonable regulatory red tape to increase the competitiveness of the national legal framework.
The Plan also provides for a Ministry of Culture and Sport bill, amending Act 55/2007, of December 28, on the Film Industry to extend its scope. New content and distribution and dissemination services in the audiovisual value chain require that this provision be adapted to the current digital, and thus global, environment. The amendment will have two main purposes: (i) extending and updating the provision’s scope beyond the audiovisual industry; and (ii) reconciling regulation with EU state aid standards while moving forward in the green and digital transitions.
Additionally, the Plan intends to streamline and simplify immigration processes in the audiovisual industry. The Ministry of Inclusion, Social Security and Migration, along with the Ministries of the Interior and Foreign Affairs, European Union and Cooperation must pass any regulatory reforms necessary to speed up permits and visas for audiovisual industry professionals.
There will be an online administrative service in consular posts for visas and residence and working permits related to audiovisual projects. This measure includes a pilot project providing for an online gateway to (i) grant permits related to audiovisual projects; and (ii) remove red tape for foreign professionals moving to Spain to work in the audiovisual industry.
So as to properly monitor the Plan’s measures, an annual report will be drafted on developments in the audiovisual industry and its subsectors, including forecasts.
The Plan will be funded by (i) Spain’s General State Budget; and (ii) EU funds, including the Recovery and Resilience Facility, the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) and the Creative Europe Program 2021–2027.
Authors: Nora Oyarzabal and Paula Conde
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