The legal situation of Spanish Community Media Sector


The Community Media Sector has been developed in Spain since the 80s. However, Community Media legal recognition occurred 20 years later, when the State approved the new Audiovisual Communication General Law 7/2010, of March 31, 2010 . Over six years have passed and no one community radio has been awarded with a broadcasting license. Despite the requests made by the ReMC (Spanish Community Media Network), by several community radios and TVs as well as by several regional governments[1], the Government has not released frequencies for this kind of services, either in radio or television, nor has it established any procedure for community media licensing applications. Also, the national government has ignored the repeated legal reminders made by the Ombudsman.

Different regional Government had also excluded community media in several processes of  distribution of licenses referring to the lack of national regulation regarding this type of radio stations.  The only way to obtain broadcasting licenses has been participating in competitions for commercial broadcasting licenses. On very few occasions some media, in small cities, community media have been able to obtain a commercial license.

The approval of the expected Audiovisual Communication General Law has not brought any improvement in the legal situation of the Spanish community media. We could even say that the situation has worsened because radio and television licenses have continued to be distributed, excluding non-commercial broadcasters and less space is left in the radio spectrum for the unlicensed stations that are struggling for the free frequencies in the dial. This situation strongly jeopardizes the viability or continuity of small radio stations in some cities.

In response to this situation the Community Media Network (ReMC) promoted several court appeals. However, the courts have not considered any of its arguments and have also condemned them to the payment of court costs. Despite this situation, one hundred radio stations and 3 community TV continue their broadcasting activity facing possible closures and high fines.

[1]     Respuesta del Gobierno a iniciativa parlamentaria 184/000475 BOCG. Congreso de los Diputados Núm. D-76 de 17/04/2012 Pág.: 42 http://www.congreso.es/public_oficiales/L10/CONG/BOCG/D/D_076.PDF#page=42

For more information (in Spanish) www.medioscomunitarios.net or contact Javier García. ReMC.  javito.almenara@gmail.com  for info also in English.