Spain to force Netflix to offer content in Catalan, Basque and Galician

Netflix, HBO and other streaming platforms will have to offer 6 percent of their content in Catalan, Basque and Galician as well as pay a new tax to fund productions in these co-official languages of Spain, according to a new audiovisual law by the Spanish government. 

Spain to force Netflix to offer content in Catalan, Basque and Galician
Photo: Mollie Sivaram/Unsplash

If you’re looking to improve your listening comprehension skills in one of Spain’s co-official languages, even if it’s dubbed rather than original speech, this news may interest you.

A last-minute agreement between Catalonia’s ERC Republican Left party and the Spanish government for the 2022 budget law will force streaming platforms to offer at least 6 percent of their content in Catalan, Basque and Galician to viewers in Spain.

That doesn’t necessarily mean that there will be a huge rise in the number of film productions shot in the three regions of Spain where these languages are primarily spoken, as the co-official language requirement can be met by dubbing content rather than it being produced in the original language. 

Audiovisual content made in Spain, other European countries and the United States is expected to be dubbed.

In total, around 1,500 new and old series and films on Netflix, Apple TV+, Amazon Prime Video, HBO Max, Disney+, Filmin, AtresPlayer and other platforms will have an option to have the audio in Catalan, Basque or Galician.

There will also be a new audiovisual tax for these companies where 10 percent of proceeds will go to the production of series and films in these co-official languages, with the remainder going to Spanish and European content creation.

The draft law, which will have to be approved by Spain’s Council of Ministers before the end of the year, will require these platforms to offer subtitles in Catalan, Basque or Galician.

It also requires 15 percent of Spanish state broadcaster RTVE’s productions to be produced in these co-official languages.

In 2018, the European Union started requiring large streaming platforms have 30 percent of their content catalogue made up of European productions.

In Spain there are four co-official languages: Catalan (grouped together with Valencian and Balearic), Galician (Galego), Basque (also known as Euskera) and Occitan/Aranese, by far the least spoken of all. 

A 2019 Pew survey found that the languages ​​spoken at home in Spain were Spanish in 81 percent of households, Catalan in 8 percent of homes, Valencian in 4 percent, Galician in 3 percent, and Basque in 1 percent of homes, although 900,000 people reportedly know how to speak Euskera.


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Six celebrities who are fluent in (Castilian) Spanish

David Beckham may have struggled to string a sentence together in Spanish after four years in Madrid, but other famous faces have reached almost native levels in the language after spending time in España or with Spanish people.

Six celebrities who are fluent in (Castilian) Spanish

Freddie Highmore 

British actor Freddie Highmore, who as a child appeared alongside Johnny Depp in ‘Charlie and the Chocolate Factory’ and ‘Finding Neverland’, is perhaps the most impressive Spanish speaker on the list. The star of ‘The Good Doctor’ TV series spent a year living in Madrid while he was studying and actually has a Galician grandmother. His Spanish accent, his grammar and spoken sentence construction is practically native.

Ivan Rakitic

There are dozens of foreign footballers playing in La Liga who speak Spanish at an almost native level: Frenchman Antoine Griezzman, Belgian Thibaut Cortois, Slovak Jan Oblak. But perhaps the most incredible of all is Croatian midfielder Ivan Rakitic, a former Barça player who’s returned to his old club Sevilla. It was in the Andalusian city where Rakitic met his now wife and where he developed a true Sevillian accent, with all the flair and consonant dropping that it’s famed for.

Gwyneth Paltrow

The American actress turned beauty product guru is a fluent Spanish speaker who mostly conjugates her verbs correctly and hardly has any traces of an American accent (she even pronounces c and z in the traditional Castilian way). It all started when as a teenager Paltrow did a year abroad in Talavera de la Reina near Toledo, where she stayed with a Spanish family who she still visits every time she’s in Spain.  

Jean Reno

You may not have known this, but French superstar Jean Reno’s real name is Juan Moreno y Herrera-Jiménez. Reno was born in the Moroccan city of Casablanca, where his parents fled to from their native Cádiz to escape Franco’s regime. The star of ‘Leon: The Professional’ obviously had a big advantage when it came to learning Spanish, but given that he’s lived most of his life in Morocco and France, his fluency in Spanish is commendable, bar his clear French accent.

James Rhodes

Ever since British-born concert pianist James Rhodes moved to Spain in 2017, he’s voiced his love for everything Spanish, including the language. His work spearheading a law to protect children from sexual abuse in Spain earned him the honour of fast-track Spanish citizenship. Rhodes regularly takes to Twitter, tweeting almost entirely in Spanish and demonstrating a thorough understanding of syntax, slang and more. He’s also more than capable of holding his own when speaking castellano

Michael Robinson

The late Michael Robinson, a British footballer who became Spain’s most famous TV football pundit, was and still is the perfect example of how the most important factor when learning a language is to immerse oneself in the culture and make mistakes without fear. Having been forced into early retirement due to injury while playing for Osasuna, he took on his new job without prior experience and with far from perfect Spanish. He improved despite holding onto his British accent, learnt Spanish expressions and jokes and laughed at his blunders. No wonder he was known as Spain’s most loved Brit.