Saturday, July 3, 2010

Powerful Minority: Catalonians

According to The Hollywood Reporter.com, "Parliamentarians in Spain's northeastern region of Catalonia have passed a controversial law requiring half of all commercial films to be dubbed* into the local language."

I'm generally not a fan of laws relating to language (I'm a linguistic libertarian of sorts), but I recognize that Catalan has benefited tremendously from a strong region where its speakers have money, power, and prestige (the real forces of linguistics, ultimately). According to the above report, Catalan accounts for 20% of Spain's film market (ticket sales?) but only 3% of films are dubbed* into Catalan.

As a proud capitalist pig, I just don't see why the Catalonia 20% market share isn't itself enough to drive film makers to produce the dubbing. The Hollywood Reporter claims it costs "€50,000 euros ($61,000) to dub." Okay, try adding €1 to the ticket price of dubbed films and see if Catalonians are willing to pay for this service. If they aren't willing to pay for it, why legislate it?  As I recall, several European countries already have differential pricing** for films so this is not a crazy suggestion.

*actually "dubbed or subtitled."
** where some are cheaper than others, unlike here in the States where all films are the same price...a ludicrous system, btw. See HERE for a nice discussion.

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