Spain’s Government Eases Limits on Television Ownership

Spain’s government approved a law allowing companies or individuals to own stakes in more than one television operator, aiming to help the industry as advertising revenue shrinks.

The decree allows businesses or individuals to hold a stake of more than 5 percent in more than one operator, as long as the combined audience share of the companies does not exceed 27 percent, Deputy Prime Minister Maria Teresa Fernandez de la Vega said at a news conference today after a weekly cabinet meeting.

The changes in the law aim to “financially strengthen television companies at a time when advertising is falling severely,” Fernandez de la Vega said.

Spanish broadcasters are facing a drop in sales as Spain’s first recession in 15 years forces companies to cut back on advertising. The country entered a recession in the second half of 2008, and may face its worst slump in 50 years as the global credit crisis compounds the effects of a housing market collapse.

Antena 3 de Television SA said yesterday net income dropped 55 percent as advertising revenue fell and Promotora de Informaciones SA (PRS), Spain’s largest media company, said 2008 profit fell 57 percent.

To contact the reporter on this story: Emma Ross-Thomas in Madrid at erossthomas@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: John Fraher at jfraher@bloomberg.net

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