Insight: an overview of media and entertainment law in Spain

All the questions


Technological innovations in recent years have led to significant changes in the media and audiovisual market. It is evident that the conjunction of high-speed internet, high-speed cellular networks and the popularization of smartphones has brought about a significant change in consumer habits and in the way audiovisual content is created and distributed. This evolution has brought new players, stakeholders, types of content and channels into the market. This is particularly visible among younger generations, who have replaced traditional audiovisual platforms and content with new audiovisual media services such as live streaming audiovisual platforms, user-generated content and video sharing platforms, among others.

In this context, on March 24, 2021, the Spanish government presented its plan to boost the audiovisual sector, Spain: Audiovisual Hub of Europe, aimed at consolidating Spain as a leading audiovisual production center, attracting investment foreigners, to facilitate the establishment of companies in the audiovisual sector and, ultimately, to increase the competitiveness of the Spanish digital market (for example, by improving current financial regulations and tax instruments). In particular, among the various measures launched to achieve these objectives, the plan proposes regulatory reforms and the removal of administrative barriers. In this regard, one of the first measures already adopted is the promulgation of Law no. of audiovisual media) has been transposed in Spain, and our internal regulatory framework has been updated to meet the new needs and face the new challenges of the sector.

This new regulation aims to (1) promote European audiovisual works; (2) foster linguistic diversity, promoting all of Spain’s official languages; (3) promote equality and the representation and participation of women in the audiovisual sector; (4) strengthening the protection of minors (for example, requiring video-sharing platforms to verify the age of users); (5) regulate the activity of influencers, who will be considered providers of audiovisual communication services; (6) relax limits on advertising; and (7) strengthen the financing system of the Spanish national public broadcaster RTVE.

It is still too early to assess the impact this plan and the new regulations will have on the Spanish audiovisual market, but hopefully we will be able to reap the benefits of this reform in the years to come.

Legal and regulatory framework

The Spanish legal system does not regulate media and entertainment in a single piece of legislation, which would probably help in terms of systematization and efficiency. The industry is regulated through several sets of sectoral rules dealing with its different branches and activities. This regulatory framework is made up of a wide range of laws, royal decrees and regulations of more limited scope, all of which are governed by the Spanish Constitution and, in particular, by the provisions relating to the exercise and guarantee of fundamental rights. (information, honor and privacy, etc.) and other freedoms (such as freedom of enterprise and the facilitation of the proper use of free time by public administration). This regulatory system complies with international treaties concluded by Spain and relevant European regulations.

In this context, the Constitution recognizes, in Article 20, the fundamental rights of all citizens to freedom of expression; freedom of literary, artistic, scientific and technical creation; academic freedom; And freedom of the press. The exercise of these rights cannot be limited by any type of prior censorship and can generally only be limited in very exceptional cases, such as states of alert, emergency and siege. Similarly, section 5 of article 20 stipulates that the seizure of publications, recordings and other means of information can only be executed subject to a court order. However, the exercise of these rights must be consistent and respectful of other rights, such as the right to protection of honour, privacy and one’s own image, and it must respect the protection of young people and children.

In addition to the Constitution, several laws are of particular importance in the media and entertainment sector, including:

  • Royal Legislative Decree 1/1996 of 12 April 1996 approving the Intellectual Property Law (the Intellectual Property Law);
  • Law No. 34/2002 of July 11, 2002 on information society and electronic commerce services, which transposed European Directive 2000/31/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of June 8, 2000;
  • Law No. 7/1998 of April 13, 1998 on general procurement conditions;
  • General Law No. 13/2022 of 7 July 2022 on Audiovisual Communication (the General Law on Audiovisual Communication);
  • Law No. 9/2014 of 9 May 2014 relating to telecommunications;
  • Organic Law 3/2018, of December 5, 2018, on the protection of personal data and the guarantee of digital rights, which consolidates and develops the provisions and principles of the EU General Data Protection Regulation;
  • Legislative Royal Decree 1/2007, of November 16, approving the consolidated text of the General Law for the Protection of Consumers and Users;
  • Law No. 3/1991 of 10 January 1991 on Unfair Competition (the Unfair Competition Law);
  • General Law No. 34/1988 of 11 November 1988 on Advertising (the General Law on Advertising);
  • Law No. 14/1966 of March 18, 1966 on the press and printing press;
  • Organic Law No. 1/1982 of 5 May 1982 relating to the civil protection of the right to honour, to personal and family privacy and to one’s own image; and
  • Organic Law No. 2/1984 of March 26, 1984 on the right of rectification.