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A novel spatial-layer rate-control algorithm is proposed for scalable video coding (SVC). First, by analyzing the relationship among the best initial quantization parameter (Qp), channel bandwidth, and the initial frames' complexity measure, an adaptive Qp-initialization model is introduced to determine the starting Qp value for not only the base layer but also the spatial enhancement layers of SVC. Then, a two-stage Qp-determination scheme is designed to improve the rate-control performance for the spatial-layer SVC with an efficient frame-complexity prediction method and an adaptive model-parameter update technique employed. Experimental results demonstrate the effectiveness of the proposed Qp -initialization scheme and the two-stage Qp-determination algorithm. By comparison with two other benchmark rate-control algorithms, the proposed rate-control algorithm is able to control constrained bit rates accurately with better rate-distortion performance.