Media legislation

As a democratic country, Spain recognizes the right to information and freedom of the press in its supreme law. It also guarantees respect for the conscience clause and the professional secrecy of journalists. It also expressly prohibits prior censorship. Contained in Article 20 of the 1978 Constitution, all those prerogatives are recognised as an especially protected fundamental right.

Under these rights, Spain has several specific laws that regulate the activity of the media. The most significant are, first, the Act regulating the information professionals’ conscience clause of 1997. Although the legal implementation of this fundamental right was already provided for in the Constitution, it was necessary to wait for more than twenty years.

Although it transcends the scope of the media, another fundamental regulation for journalism is the Intellectual Property Act, of 1996, later amended in 2014. This Act regulates the intellectual authorship and the commercial use of artistic and journalistic works. The reform of 2014 was especially controversial, introducing the so-called "Google Tax": An economic compensation that had to be paid by Internet portals and link aggregators for publishing media-owned information content. In disagreement with this law, the only one of its characteristics in the world, in December 2014 Google decided to close its Google News service in Spain.

Also controversial was the 2015 Act for the Protection of Citizen Security. This legal standard was christened by its critics as the "gag law", due to its restrictive regulation of the public freedoms of declaration and of information.

Finally, another key law in the regulation of the media, particularly radio and television, is the General Law of Audiovisual Communication, 2010. In accordance with the European directives, this law establishes the right to pluralistic and transparent audiovisual communication, cultural and linguistic diversity, the protection of minors and persons with disabilities and the control of audiovisual content.