Television in Spain

Get to grips with TV standards, understand where and how to pay the radio and TV licence fees, and find out what's available to the TV viewer in Spain...

The television standard in use in Spain is DVB-T. Spain started broadcasting in digital in 1999, and finished broadcasting in analogue in April 2010.

Most countries in the world have either switched over, are switching over, or plan to switch over from analogue TV broadcasting to digital TV broadcasting. Before the advent of digital broadcasting, the main three standards were:

  • NTSC: the USA, Canada, Japan
  • PAL: most of Western Europe, Australia, southern Africa
  • SECAM: Eastern Europe and France

Today, the main digital standards are:

  • DVB-T: most of the world, including Europe, southern Africa, Australia and southern Asia
  • ATSC: the USA, Canada, Mexico and South Korea
  • ISDB-T: most of South America
  • DTMB: China

Digital set-top boxes are available for people still using analogue TVs. However, these only work within one set of standards, so an analogue set brought into another region may still not work with a set-top box.

The DVD region for Spain is 2. DVD players will either need to be region-free or set to region 2 in order to play discs typically bought in Spain.

National Spanish TV Stations

There is no TV licence fee payable in Spain; advertising supports all channels. Spain does not have a national independent broadcasting authority.

Some of the autonomous communities have a regulatory board but the only national commission is the Comisión del Mercado de las Telecomunicaciones (Telecommunications Market Commission) that has a small influence over the audio-visual sector.

There are a number of regional stations available to each province broadcasting in the local language such as Catalan, Basque and Galician.

Terrestrial Digital Television (TDT)

TDT is the Spanish equivalent of the UK's free view television. Digital television provides a greater number of channels and better picture quality using transmission to a standard television aerial. In Spain analogue television was completely phased out in April 2010.

  • The Ministry of Industry and Tourism has more information about TDT

Satellite programming

Free to air programming from other countries may be received with an appropriately-sized and -oriented satellite dish and digital satellite receiver. Some European providers also make these television services available via the Internet.

Alternatively, it is possible to access UK-based free-to-air (FTA) programming on the same satellite that broadcasts Sky Digital. It is not known, however, whether this will still be possible after UK services transfer to the Astra 2E satellite in early 2014. Please note that there is no way to access encrypted programming within the terms and conditions of the TV provider, if that provider exclusively serves the UK.

Satellite dishes over 1.9 metres in diameter may require planning permission from the local Town Hall (Ayuntamiento) although this varies between towns and should be checked before proceeding with any installation.

Internet Protocol TV

An increasing number of TV channels are offering IPTV services or VPN TV: programming delivered via the Internet rather than by satellite or cable. As with satellite TV, the availability of channels from other countries depends on international licensing arrangements, and the terms under which the provider makes their programming available overseas.

IPTV service providers in Spain include:

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