updated 12/13/2005 9:29:36 AM ET 2005-12-13T14:29:36

Lawmakers on Tuesday urged the Spanish government to overhaul state-run television's depiction of elderly people, saying most of the time they are seen as poor, alone and ill-humored.

The resolution sponsored by the conservative Popular Party was passed unanimously by the Chamber of Deputies, the lower house of parliament.

When elderly people are shown on state-run TV, half the time they live in nursing homes, said conservative lawmaker Carmen Quintanilla, a member of the chamber's labor and social affairs commission.

And in 85 percent of those cases, such people are "poor, alone, sick or in a bad mood," Quintanilla said, adding that only 8 percent of all actors appearing on state-run TV are elderly.

'Miserable stage of life'
She insisted that retired people perform an important role in society, with tasks such as looking after grandchildren in families where both parents work.

"Why do we insist that old age is a lonely and miserable stage in life?" Quintanilla said during debate on the resolution.

Spain's elderly population is growing steadily because of a low birth rate and longer life expectancy, according to a Bank of Spain report issued in January.

The proportion of Spaniards aged 65 or more will jump to 30 percent in 2050 from 17 percent in 2001, the report said.

The report also forecast that Spaniards' life expectancy will increase from 81 in 2002 to 84 by 2030.

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