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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Five things to know about the Galician language

You may have visited Galicia, but what do you know about the Spanish region's unique language? Here are five things to know about Galician or Galego.

Five things to know about the Galician language

It’s a language, not a dialect

Many may assume that Galician or Galego is just a dialect of Spanish, but in fact, like Catalan and Basque, Galician is in fact a separate language. In 1978 the language was officially recognised as one of the five official regional languages of Spain.

According to Galician’s Council of Culture, before it was officially recongised, Castilian Spanish was the dominant language, socially and culturally, while Galician was marginalised. However, today it is taught in schools, there are media outlets written in Galician and it is more integrated into the society.  

It’s more closely associated with Portuguese than it is with Spanish

Both Galician and Portuguese are said to have derived from the same Romance language spoken around the 9th century called Galician-Portuguese, however around the 14th century these languages began to diverge slightly as borders were established. 

“Despite a divergent historical evolution since the Middle Ages, today Galician and Portuguese are mutually understandable almost effortlessly,” says the Galician Council of Culture. Today, Galician and Portuguese still have similar grammar and vocabulary, however there are differences in the way they sound and in the spelling of the words. 

READ ALSO: Ten unique Basque words you need to learn right now

It’s spoken by around 2.8 million people

According to the Galician government, Galego is spoken by 2.8 million people. It is spoken mostly in Galicia, but there are also Galician speakers in Asturias, León and Zamora, as well as three small places in Extremadura. 

Galician’s Council of Culture also says that it is spoken by immigrant communities in South America, particularly in Argentina and Uruguay; in Europe mostly in Germany, Switzerland and France. It also states that the majority of the inhabitants of Galicia speak Galician as their first language and use it on a daily basis. 

Galician has its own public holiday

Galician even has its own public holiday, known as Galician Literature Day or El Día de las Letras Galegas. It has been celebrated every May 17th since 1963 by the Royal Galician Academy as a tribute to writers of Galician literature.

Each year, the festival is dedicated to a different Galician literary figure, in 2021 it was the poet Xela Arias and this year, it will be dedicated to the poet Florencio Delgado Gurriarán, who was exiled to Mexico. 

READ ALSO: Five reasons why Galicia is Spain’s version of Ireland

Galician has over 70 words to describe rain

It is said that Arabic has many different words for ‘camel’ and according to language experts Galician has around 70 words to describe rain. It’s no wonder, as Galicia is known as the wettest region in Spain. 

The language has different words depending on whether the rain is light, heavy, if there are lots of clouds or if it’s sunny and raining at the same time. For example, ‘Battuere‘ is used when the rain is intense and ‘Torbón‘ describes rain accompanied by thunder and lightning. While ‘Sarabiada‘ means the rain that falls on ice and snow. 

Useful words and phrases in Galician: 

Next time you’re in Galicia, why not try speaking some Galician for yourself? Here are a few useful words and phrases to get you started. 

Bos días – Good morning 

¿Como te chamas? – What’s your name?

¿Falas galego? – Do you speak Galician?

Saúde! – Cheers 

Bo proveito! – Bon appetit or Enjoy your meal