Movies, series, soap operas and docufiction will have less of a presence on Spanish television from next month.
Nine DTT (Digital Terrestrial Television) channels will be shut down before May 6, the deadline set by the Industry Ministry. Private operators have already decided which signals will be turned off (see box); these include La Sexta 3, which shows mostly movies; Xplora, which broadcasts shows that fall between documentary and fiction; and La Siete, which features a range of Latin American soaps.
This shutdown is the result of a 2012 Supreme Court ruling that cancelled out the concession of additional channels to existing broadcasters, on the grounds that the concession was made without a public bid and that new operators were thus deprived of a chance to join the market.
This is an attack on the rights of citizens, who will see their choices reduced”
Broadcasters — Atresmedia, Mediaset, Unidad Editorial and Vocento — have appealed to the Constitutional Court, claiming that their rights have been violated. The chairmen of Atresmedia and Mediaset, José Manuel Lara and Alejandro Echevarría, tried to halt the closure last week by sending a letter to Industry Minister José Manuel Soria expressing “our most absolute perplexity and disagreement” with the request to shut down nine of the 24 stations that the four private operators currently run.
“The end of programming that we are being forced into is an unprecedented situation in any democracy; it is an attack on the rights of citizens, who will see their choices reduced,” reads the letter.
The Supreme Court considers that freedom of expression is not being violated. What’s more, the court is considering a complaint by a company that was left out of the market due to the absence of a public bid, which could result in an additional eight stations shutting down.