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Spanish scrapped

The withdrawal of a Spanish-language channel from a cable television service has angered teachers in Hampshire.

Teachers and students in Portsmouth and Gosport have been complaining to local MPs and MEPs about the decision by cable company Nynex to remove the Spanish TVE channel as part of a programming reshuffle.

Pam Dipple, who teaches Spanish at the University of Portsmouth, as well as at a Gosport secondary school and in adult education evening classes, says that she is "appalled that the channel is being withdrawn when we are being encouraged as Europeans to learn modern languages". Pam Dipple says that she uses the cable television service every day, recording the news in Spanish and using it in lessons. Her A-level students rely on the cable channel, she says, using the programmes both at school and at home to improve their comprehension of the language.

Although the protesting teachers say that TVE and a Russian-language channel are being replaced by light entertainment and soap channels, Nynex has defended its decision as being an administrative necessity. Nynex says that the Spanish channel wants to change the rules for collection of royalties for performers and producers of the channel's programmes, so that the cable company will have to administer the payments of fees for individual programmes, as opposed to a lump sum that is currently being paid to the Spanish channel. Nynex's German and French channels will continue as before.

The question of royalties and legal liability is a daunting problem for companies relaying international broadcasts. Cable companies will have no editorial control of, for example, an international news programme, but might be subsequently challenged as to its contents. There are also complex copyright questions for programmes produced in one country and then included as part of a bundle of stations on a cable or satellite network in other countries.

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