Why Spanish TV is facing greater scrutiny

Watchdog cracks down on adult-themed programs during children’s slots and unwelcome ad breaks

The cast of Spanish show ‘La que se avecina,’ which was found to contain “sexist behavior and attitudes, and have no informative value.”
The cast of Spanish show ‘La que se avecina,’ which was found to contain “sexist behavior and attitudes, and have no informative value.”

In the nine months since it was set up, Spain’s CNMC anti-trust authority has been keeping a close eye on the country’s television stations to make sure that they are not showing adult-themed programs during children’s schedules, and the watchdog has also been monitoring the amount of advertising they show.

Mediaset, the company that owns Telecinco, was recently obliged to reschedule Anger Management, the latest vehicle for former Two and a Half Men star Charlie Sheen, along with US reality show Man vs Food. In the case of the former, the CNMC considered that the themes and language were not appropriate for minors; while the eating competitions in the second “could lead young people to imitate such behavior.”

Antena 3 was also obliged to move Two and a Half Men to a later slot on the basis that it was only appropriate for children aged 13 or over. Spain’s television channels base their criteria for imported programs on those of the Institute for Cinematography and Audiovisual Arts, which do not always coincide with the CNMC’s views.

This show contains gratuitous violence and relationships that insinuated lewdness” The CNMC on dating show ‘Women and men and vice versa’

The CNMC also required Mediaset’s La Siete to reschedule Mujeres y hombres y vicerversa (Women and men and vice versa), which is based on an Italian dating show. “It has content that includes scenes of gratuitous violence, along with relationships that insinuated lewdness,” and imposed a series of fines amounting to close to €500,000.

Telecinco also fell foul of the CNMC for broadcasting on its FDF channel the sitcom La que se avecina (What’s to come), which goes out in the early afternoon. The CMNC considered that the program was not suitable for children aged under 13: “As well as containing sexist behavior and attitudes, it has no informative value,” ruled the commission, fining Mediaset €800,000.

Atresmedia was fined more than €300,000 for showing US docufiction 1000 Ways to Die on its now-defunct Xplora documentary channel in the early afternoon. The CNMC argued that the “detailed description of torture and injuries and deaths of people” was not appropriate for under-13s.

Atresmedia was fined more than €300,000 for showing ‘1,000 Ways to Die’ in the early afternoon

The CNMC has also found itself caught up in the tactics of channels fighting rating wars. Atresmedia made a complaint against Telecinco’s afternoon magazine show El programa de Ana Rosa for including a piece about prostitution in Madrid. A week later, Mediaset reported Atresmedia’s Espejo Público (Public mirror) for broadcasting images of female university students who were working as prostitutes. The CNMC brought charges against both broadcasters. Mediaset also filed a complaint against Atresmedia for including scenes in its high-school drama Física o química (Physics or chemistry) of teenagers taking drugs, which resulted in another fine.

The CNMC has also had to give Atresmedia and Mediset a warning for exceeding the 12-minutes-per-hour limit on advertisements, as well as interrupting or shortening programs to fit in more advertising. Both broadcasters were found to have timed advertising breaks to be simultaneous on channels such as Energy, Divinity, Neox and Nova, meaning that a viewer flicking through those channels would see the same adverts being broadcast simultaneously. To achieve this, however, the channels would cut into the program in the middle of dialogue or a scene, rather than waiting for an appropriate pause. The Paramount Channel was also found to have broken the rules by not respecting the 30-minute break between advertising slots.

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