Television in Spain
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Television in Spain was launched in October 1956, when the state broadcaster Televisión Española (TVE) started regular broadcasts. The first private channels started in 1990. Colour transmissions started in 1972 after two years of test transmissions, with all programming transmitted in color from 1977, and colour commercials, which started in 1978. Currently, television is one of the leading mass media of the country, and by 2008 was in 99.7% of households in Spain according to INE statistics.
Until recently terrestrial television was considered an essential public service. Broadcasting is managed both directly by the State and indirectly, through controlled concessions to private firms. The Audiovisual Law of 2010 changed this by defining radio and television as commercial services that individuals pay for, fostering liberalization within some constraints.
Analogue terrestrial television in Spain began on 28 October 1956. Televisión Española (now La 1) was the very first regular television channel, and operated alone until 1966, when a second channel (now La 2) was launched. La 1 and La 2 were the only authorized television channels in Spain until 1982, when Euskal Telebista was launched in the Basque Country and, in the following year, TV3 in Catalonia, thus ending TVE's monopoly. More channels were launched in the 1980s, each broadcasting to their respective autonomous communities: Canal 9, Canal Sur, Telemadrid, and Televisión de Galicia (TVG), prior to the full liberalization of television with the law of 1989 which permitted the establishment of private commercial channels.
Antena 3, Telecinco (both free-to-air analogue terrestrial channels) and Canal+ (a pay analogue terrestrial channel obliged to broadcast 6 free-to-air hours a day) were launched in 1990, in January, March and September respectively, finishing the public television monopoly in Spain. Sogecable's Canalsatélite (analogue pay satellite TV) was launched in 1994. Two digital pay satellite TV platforms, Canal Satélite Digital (controlled by PRISA) and Vía Digital (controlled by Telefónica, TVE Temática, Televisa and minority shareholders) were launched in 1997, only to merge six years later, in 2003, to form Digital+, renamed to Canal+ in 2011 after its flagship station.
Through the 1990s and 2000s, more regional channels (most of them public, but some of them private) were launched. A number of them created FORTA, a union of public regional broadcasters. Many local channels were also launched, some of them created the Localia Network. During the 1990s, dozens of local channels started broadcasting without a license. The government declared that channels that proved to be operating for a long time could go on working, but blocked new unlicensed channels.
On 3 April 2010 the analog service was officially discontinued.
Digital terrestrial television
In the 2000s (decade), the analog national and autonomic channels started simulcast on digital terrestrial television. In 2005, Canal+ stopped its analog service to move to Digital Plus and was substituted by Cuatro. Some weeks later, the last analog national private channel, La Sexta, started testing broadcasts, to begin its regular analog schedule in 2006. In 2009, the analog service started its closure in a process that lasted one year. The development of digital terrestrial television was very similar to the failure of ITV Digital in the United Kingdom. Digital terrestrial television was introduced in the country by the pay per view platform Quiero Television. In May 2002, statewide operators were required to start broadcasting in DVB-T. Yet, Quiero TV ceased transmissions in 2002 after a commercial failure. Unlike the UK, the three and half multiplexes left by the platform were not reassigned to other operators, and so 5 channels were squashed into a single multiplex.
On 30 November 2005, digital terrestrial television was relaunched as a free service with 20 channels and 14 radio stations, along with 23 regional- and local-language channels in their respective areas. Currently about 95% of the population can receive DTT. Each multiplex has a minimum of 4 SD channels each or one HD channel. Televisió de Catalunya and Aragón Televisión are using spare bandwidth in their own digital multiplex to broadcast test HD streams.
Modern free-to-air digital terrestrial television sector
Analogue service was discontinued in April 2010. Since then, all national and regional terrestrial channels are digital. Together with the TDT transition and the process of absortion of channels in the late-2000s to early-2010s amid the Spanish financial crisis, the removal of commercials from RTVE by means of its 2009 Funding Law facilitated the creation of the duopoly formed by Mediaset España and Atresmedia, that secures a 57% share of the audience and a 90% of advertising procurement.
La 1 ("La Uno"): Spain's principal public-service television network, publicly owned and financed and offering programming aimed at a wide public. Previous names include La Primera Cadena and TVE-1. La 2 ("La Dos"): the country's second nationwide public channel, providing alternative programming to La 1. Previous names include UHF, La Segunda Cadena and TVE-2.
|Free-to-air||La 1 (SD & HD), La 2 (SD & HD), 24 Horas (SD), Clan (SD & HD), Teledeporte (SD & HD), TVE 4K||RGE1|
As of 2020, Atresmedia is the second largest free-to-air television network in terms of audience. It is owned by the Grupo Planeta. It traces its origins to those of its flagship channel, Antena 3: one of the nationwide private television networks that received a broadcasting licence in 1989. Antena 3 airs general programs such as news, movies, reality shows, sport events and quizzes.
The network's secondary generalist channel, laSexta, traces its origins to the granting of another private license in 2005. It was then jointly owned by the Mexican giant Televisa (40%) and the Grupo Audiovisual de Medios de Producción (60%), which was in turn participated by Grupo Árbol-Globomedia (40%), Mediapro (38%), Drive (10%), El Terrat (7%) and Bainet (5%).
However in the context of mergings in the late-2000 to early-2010s, the channels of Antena 3 and those of Mediapro merged in 2011, and LaSexta subsequently became part of the newly created Grupo Atresmedia.
|Free-to-air||Antena 3 (SD, HD & 4K), La Sexta (SD & HD), Neox (SD), Nova (HD), Mega (HD), Atreseries (HD)||MPE2|
As of 2020, Mediaset España is the television group with the largest audience. It has its origins in the Gestevisión Telecinco, the society created in 1989 that was granted one of the first licenses for private free-to-air analogic terrestrial TV private channels in Spain: Tele 5 (later branded as Telecinco). It was initially formed by Italian media tycoon Silvio Berlusconi's Fininvest (25%), Grupo Anaya (25%), ONCE (25%) and other shareholders (25%), although the share distribution has changed over the years, and, as of 2020, Mediaset España is owned via Mediaset Italia by the Berlusconi family, and, in 2019, the group simply attempted to merge with Mediaset Italia.
In 2009, already in the TDT transition era, Gestevisión agreed with PRISA's Sogecuatro to merge their businesses (most notably their flagship channels Telecinco and Cuatro), with Gestevisión absorbing Sogecuatro in exchange of a minor participation of PRISA as shareholder of Gestevisión. In 2011, the media conglomerate was renamed to Mediaset España Comunicación S.A. PRISA eventually sold its remaining shares in 2015.
The flagship channel of the network remains Telecinco. Telecinco airs general programs such as news, movies, reality shows, sport events and quizzes. As secondary channel in the Mediaset network, Cuatro airs general programs such as news, movies, documentaries, reality shows, sport events and quizzes.
|Free-to-air||Telecinco (SD & HD), Cuatro (SD & HD), FDF (SD), Divinity (SD), Energy (SD), Boing (SD), Be Mad TV HD (HD)||MPE3|
Many of the Spanish regions (comunidades autónomas) have their own public network service: Telemadrid in the Madrid region, Canal Extremadura Televisión in Extremadura, 7RM in the Region of Murcia, Canal Sur in Andalusia, CMM TV in Castilla–La Mancha, TVG Televisión de Galicia, TV3 in Catalonia, À Punt in the Valencian Community, EITB Euskal Telebista in Basque Country, TPA in Asturias, TV Canaria in Canary Islands, etc. Most of these channels (called "las autonómicas") are integrated in the FORTA ("Federación de Organismos de Radio Televisión Autonómicos").
Among the flagship channels of the different autonomous communities, the Catalan TV3 stands out because it enjoys, by far, the largest share of audience in its respective region, leading, in fact, over the rest of terrestrial channels with a 14.6% share of audience in Catalonia in 2019.
Other terrestrial television channels
|Corporation||Channel in Standard Definition||Channel in High Definition||Channel in 4K||Radio station||Mux|
|Sociedad Gestora de Televisión Net TV||Disney Channel
|Radio Blanca||DKiss||Kiss FM
|Central Broadcaster Media||Ten||Cadena SER
|Real Madrid Club de Fútbol||Real Madrid TV HD||MPE5|
By autonomous community
Monthly viewing shares in November 2020 (Top 10 individual channels):
|Position||Channel||Group||Share of total viewing (%)|
|3||La 1||Televisión Española||9.3|
|6||La 2||Televisión Española||2.8|
|9||Trece||Conferencia Episcopal Española||2.2|
Digital cable is slowly replacing the aging analogue service of the major cable provider Ono. Telecable, a cable ISP operating in Asturias has begun trials for 1000 mega bytes per second service and is the first to broadcast HD channels. R, a cable operator in Galicia, has completely switched pay TV to digital (DVB-C) by 2008 but free channels are simulcast as analog services, so users without a set-top box can watch them (including most free-to-air channels available on digital terrestrial TV in each location).
Digital satellite services has existed since 1997 from Astra and Hispasat satellites. The Movistar+ pay platform has carried some HDTV tests on Astra 19.2°E on 16 June 2005. This platform (before Canal+) has a lot of exclusives channels as "#0" by February 2016 without having to pay the licence of the brand Canal+.
A high definition version of Canal+ 1 (Canal+ 1 HD) now is called "#0"; started on 29 January 2008, together with HD versions of Canal+ Deportes (now Movistar Deportes) and Canal+ DCine (now Movistar Drama) broadcast from Astra 1KR.
During 2007 Telefónica ran trials of VDSL services up to 52 Mbit/s - However, the results were not as good as expected. For this reason, Telefónica will use FTTH for future IPTV services. Now Telefónica use Movistar+ in IPTV and Satellite.
Available streaming service providers include Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, HBO España, Movistar+ Lite, DAZN, FlixOlé, Filmin, Rakuten TV or Disney+. Atresmedia and Mediaset España launched their own pay services: Atresplayer Premium and Mitele Plus, respectively, which are upgraded versions of their freely available services Atresplayer and Mitele offering exclusive content on-demand. Free streaming services also include RTVE's RTVE Play and Pluto TV.
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During the more than three decades of TVE's monopoly over TV broadcasting, TVE delivered a diverse fiction offer, both in terms of dramas and comedies as well as different production standards, although there was no special interest in an extended run of their series, and many of them simply often fit a prototypical one season & 13 episode profile. TVE also imported fiction series from the United States.
During the 1960s and 1970s, the scope of domestic fiction focused on theatrical and literary adaptations as well as region-themed fiction; in the particular case of comedy, productions underpinned the sense of costumbrismo and everyday life.
By the early 1990s, in the context of the entry of the private channels, domestically-produced comedy fiction series seized on the prime time slot, until then a dominion of game shows, foreign series and domestic dramas. A tendency to lengthen the duration of the episodes of comedy series manifested in this transitional period.
After its kickstart in 2018, Turkish soap operas had become popular in Spain by 2021. Also in the 2020s, low-budget "uplifting" German films had become a staple of the sobremesa timeslot on weekends (on TVE and Antena 3). Driven by appeals to nostalgia, 2021 saw a number of projects remaking or reviving former Spanish fiction series.
- List of Spanish-language television channels
- List of Catalan-language television channels
- Media of Spain
- Internet in Spain
- Radio in Spain
- Newspapers in Spain
- List of Spanish media groups
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