Can the public find out who owns the media through free access to the essential information required?
It is not possible to find out who owns print, online or broadcast media in the Spain through media-specific or company laws.
The broadcast media and online media are regulated by the General Statute on Audiovisual Communication. The statute does not requires disclosure of all the basic data required to establish ownership, since the names and contact details of owners is not required and nor is the identity of beneficial owners through brokerage. The link between political powers and the audiovisual media in Spain has always been very strong; thus far very few licences have been issued in Spain and the audiovisual market is therefore limited. A liberalisation process has taken place, but nevertheless governmental control over the audiovisual sector is still strong. The government – and not an independent authority – is still the body in charge of granting licences, thus maintaining control. It is possible that this allegiance between political powers and the audiovisual media explains why monitoring has traditionally not been very rigorous.
Print media are only covered by company law. It is difficult for even experts to have a clear idea of who exactly is behind each company, because the basic information required to identify ownership is not required and the information provided is not provided or updated on a regular basis. Furthermore, companies are in many cases interrelated in a network and with limited ownership information available it is difficult to follow real ownership.
DRAFT – FOR PUBLIC CONSULTATION: This research has been carried out by national experts and is open for consultation. Please let us know if you have any suggestions, or if you spot any errors or omissions by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
Law 26/2003 of 17 July, by amending Law 24/1988 of 28 July, the Stock Market and the revised text of the Companies Act, approved by Royal Legislative Decree 1564/1989 of 22 December, in order to enhance the transparency of listed companies (in Spanish)