Spain is the only European country in which regional governments are exclusively responsible for direct press subsidy policies, as an IPI report on press freedom in Spain explains. As a result, subsidy-related issues vary considerably from one part of the country to another. In 2012 subsidies continued to be granted in six of Spain’s 17 regional autonomous communities, according to the latest research.
In five of the six autonomous communities in which subsidies are given, these are based essentially, but not exclusively, on language-related issues. The exception is Andalusia, a monolingual region where subsidies are granted mainly to promote readership. While the existence of subsidies can be positive for the media sector and overall pluralism, international standards require that transparency and fairness in allocation be guaranteed.
According to researchers familiar with the Catalan case, for example, although the grant criteria are public, the government has a considerable margin of discretion. A high volume of subsidies are reportedly given without any public call for application., while a comparative analysis conducted in 2007 reported similar possibilities for discretional allocation as well as a perceived lack of independence in the allocating bodies across the other eight regions in which subsidies existed.