MALAGA, Spain — It’s not over yet. In March 2021, Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez announced the government would plow €1.6 billion ($1.9 billion) into a Spain AVS Hub plan designed to turn Spain into one of the foremost film and TV hubs in Europe.
Supported by Spain’s E.U-backed Recuperation, Transformation and Resilience push for post COVID-19 recovery, the Spain AVS Hub plan has been co-financed by part of a €806.9 billion ($866.5 billion) NextGenerationEU stimulus package for the whole of the European Union, which is a temporary instrument.
As that package ends, Spain’s government will look to negotiate funding from alternative sources to ensure that Spain AVS Hub initiatives are more than a flash in the pan, a broad cross-section of governmental authorities told an audience Tuesday at a Malaga Spanish Screening Content conference.
Of the original €1.6 billion Spain AVS Hub budget, €1.2 billion has been assigned, María González Veracruz, Spain’s secretary of state for telecommunications and digital infrastructures, announced Tuesday in a keynote speech opening a session dedicated to Two Years of Stimulus for the Audiovisual Sector, Impact and Challenges.
The Spanish government is currently in conversations with the European Commission, the E.U.’s executive arm, for a €425 million ($454.75 million) loan facility, known as the Spain Audiovisual Hub Fund, which would figure in the addendum to the Recuperation Plan, she added.
“The Spain AVS Hub Plan does not depend only on NextGenerationEU. We hope to bring to the market a large level of funds to continue supporting the industry,” added Cristina Morales, deputy director general of Audiovisual Communication Services at Spain’s Ministry of Economic Affairs and Digital Transformation, who moderated the session’s main panel.
“Our aim is to continue consolidating and establishing very strong bases so that investments made see a return. We are going to continue to be able to receive hiked funding to continue supporting the Spain AVS Hub, but we’re looking at other alternative sources,” said María Peña, CEO of ICEX, adding “I also think there are [other] instruments, and that this bet [on the audiovisual sector] is here to stay.”
Another round table speaker, Tito Rodríguez, director of marketing policies at the ICAA Spanish Film Institute pointed out that, “beyond any Recuperation Plan,” ICAA’s budget for 2023 has passed €100 million ($107 million), “a year-on-year increase of over 50%.”
“It’s a building trend so that the ICAA is well financed and can maintain its economic politicised in support of the sector, which go beyond the Recuperation Plan and NextGenerationEU,” he added.
One of the keys to Tuesday’s round table was the sweep of its panelists, taking in representatives from four disparate ministries, also including Natalia Jaquotot Garre, a deputy director general at Spain’s Treasury, and Santiago Yerga, director general at its Ministry of Inclusion, Social Security and Migration.
In all, the Spain AVS Hub Plan involved 13 ministries, a historical record for Spain, said González Veracruz.
The panel also served to voice the Spanish government’s bullishness over prospects for its audiovisual sector.
Malaga’s Mafiz Spanish Screenings take place less than a month after an Ampere Analysis study presented at the Berlinale Series Market suggested that Western Europe and North America: spend on content, scripted and unscripted, will basically plateau in the immediate future, dropping 1% in 2023 and rising 2% in 2024.
In contrast, González Veracruz predicted that Spain is the E.U. country with best content growth prospects, with revenues set to rise 5.7% over 2021-25, off a 7.2% hike in investment over the same period. Little wonder she insisted on dubbing the audio-visual sector as a “strategic” priority for her government repeating the term several times in her keynote.
Spain rates as the second bigger hub in Europe in terms of international format production for streamers and established broadcasters. Streamers annual revenues in Spain, whether SVOD or AVOD players or hybrids come in at €2.056 billion ($2.21 billion).
Spain’s video game industry sees €1.8 billion ($1.9 billion) in yearly revenues, and is key given its use across multiple sectors such as education and health-care, said González Veracruz. Expect initiatives to boost the video games industry to be announced throughout 2023.