Spain plans French-style ad ban

The Spanish government has confirmed it wants to limit advertising on public service broadcaster RTVE as part of a wide-ranging new audiovisual law.

In a move strongly reminiscent of the French authorities ban on advertising on public broadcaster France Television, Spain’s Prime Minister, José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero, said he plans to “drastically” cut back the amount of advertising permitted on RTVE.

Zapatero did not specify exact details of the plan, which will be debated in the national parliament, or when it will be introduced. There was also no detail regarding how the ad revenue shortfall will be made up.

Currently, RTVE can show ten minutes of advertising per hour on each of its main channels, TVE1 and TVE2. RTVE netted Euro557.1 million (US$742.1 million) in ad revenues last year.

Spain’s main free-to-air broadcasters have been hit particularly hard by the economic downturn and by increased competition as digital terrestrial TV takes off. Earlier this year, the country’s national association of advertisers called upon the government to limit ad minutes, claiming that saturation advertising was diluting its effectiveness.

Shares in Mediaset-backed broadcaster Telecinco and its counterpart Antena 3 immediately jumped on the government’s announcement.