Colombian content producers protest new TV quotas

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The Colombian entertainment industry has protested against a government decree that reduced the national production quota from 70% for prime-time television to 20% due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

Its beleaguered producers, actors, screenwriters, crew members and ancillary services will face even greater challenges if demand for local productions begins to decline. The independent producer organization Asocinde, led by CMO VP-producer Ana Piñeres, sent an appeal to the government while the ACA Actors Guild pursued the decree.

Some suspect that the television industry has pressured the government to adopt the move so that they can fill their programming with cheaper canned imports.

However, the two big free channels, RCN and Caracol, which held a duopoly for decades until the creation of a third channel, Canal 1, in 2017, respected the original quotas. Both are prolific producers of national content and have produced enough hours in their 22 years of existence to fill 18 channels of prime-time programming for 1.3 years, alleges Alexandra Cardona, president of the group. copyright management, Redes. The two networks have reportedly stopped the production of 38 shows employing more than 4,000 people due to the health crisis. But they are expected to resume once the restrictions are lifted.

Cardona was participating in a Zoom forum on May 1 on Colombian Senator Angelica Lozano’s Facebook account, which included Piñeres, Mario Mitrotti, head of the Alliance of Latin American Audiovisual Directors; Santiago Cabrera, Executive Director of the Union of Actors; Claudia Rodriguez, CEO of Preciosa Media, and Maria Fernanda Cespedes, Executive Director of the Colombian Academy of Cinema Arts and Sciences.

Forum participants concluded that Decree 516 was not necessary and was mainly enacted to help regional channels and the former public channel Canal 1, now a public-private entity since the entry of private investors led by Hemisphere Media Group, based in Miami, RTI of Patricio Wills who runs Televisa Studios and former Colombian president Cesar Gaviria.

In response to these allegations, Canal 1 president Ramiro Avendaño said Variety: “The temporary decree and restrictions apply to all channels and are not intended to benefit one channel more than another.”

“In the particular case of Channel 1, we continue to produce local content as intensely as ever,” he said, adding that the channel has implemented biosecurity measures and increased its hours of programming. information as well as launched new popular content.

While officials insist the decree is only a temporary measure to accommodate the current suspension of all productions, the entertainment industry fears that the new quota may remain in place even after the lifting of the regulations. home stay restrictions and other measures. Actors risk losing royalties, which they fought for decades to acquire.

“It is absurd that none of us have been consulted,” said Mitrotti, who pointed out that Colombia is the third largest producer and distributor of telenovelas in the world. “Colombia’s film and television industries are powerful forces to be reckoned with,” he added.

The country’s unemployment rate fell from 10.8 in March 2019 to 12.6 a year later, argues Cardona, with the bulk of the unemployed coming from the entertainment industry and its ancillary services.

Sylvia Constain, Minister of Information and Communication Technologies, responded to Piñeres’ call on April 30, reassuring her that the decree did not prohibit networks from broadcasting more national content than the quota of 20 % planned nor “prevent each channel from choosing and designing the content it broadcasts.”

“The decree simply recognizes that it is impossible to generate content during the pandemic where social isolation is vital to protect life,” she wrote.

It’s unclear why Constain abruptly quit last week.

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