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 1974 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 and Canal+ were launched in 1990, in January, March and September respectively, finishing the public television monopoly in Spain. Through the 1990s and 2000s (decade), more autonomic channels (most of them public, but some of them private) were launched, and all of them created FORTA, a union of public autonomic channels. 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.
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. On 3 April 2010 the analog service was officially discontinued but there are still some small local analog channels operating, most of them the unlicensed analog channels.
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 TDT. Each multiplex has a minimum of 4 SD channels each or one HD channel. Televisió de Catalunya - TVC and Aragón Televisión are using spare bandwidth in their own digital multiplex to broadcast test HD streams.
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"(This channel was renamed) in February 2016 for no have to pay the licence of the brrand Canal+. They putted this name cause they said that 2016 is the year 0 and because any channel is called 0), to see the other channels click here: http://www.movistarplus.es/diales
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 Dcine) 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.
Analogue service was discontinued in April 2010. Since then, all national and regional terrestrial channels are digital.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 La Segunda Cadena and TVE-2.
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.
Cuatro: replaced Canal+ Spain after the end of its terrestrial analogue broadcast on 7 November 2005. Cuatro, founded by Sogecable, airs general programs such as news, movies, documentaries, reality shows, sport events and quizzes. In December 2009 it was acquired by Gestevisión Telecinco (currently Mediaset España).
Telecinco: one of the nationwide private television networks that received broadcasting license in 1989. Telecinco airs general programs such as news, movies, reality shows, sport events and quizzes.
laSexta: the last nationwide private station, owned by the Mexican corporation Televisa and the Spanish production company Mediapro, Mediapro was the real owner of the channel, Televisa had also a part of the stock. It started to broadcast in March 2006. It was born with some technical limits, since its analogue broadcast covered, at the most, 85% of the Spanish population. In 2012, it was acquired by Grupo Antena 3 (currently Atresmedia).
And most regions (Comunidades Autónomas) of Spain have their own public network service : Telemadrid in Madrid, Canal Extremadura Televisión in Extremadura, 7RM in Murcia, Canal Sur and Canal 2 Andalucía in Andalusia, CMT in Castile-La Mancha, TVG Televisión de Galicia, TV3 in Catalonia, Canal 9 in Valencia, 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").
La 1: public service broadcasting network (available in HD).
La 2: second nationwide public channel.
24 Horas: 24-hour news channel. Also on digital satellite & cable operators.
Clan: children/teen channel. Also on digital satellite & cable operators.
Teledeporte: sports; also on digital satellite & cable operators (available in HD).
Antena 3: general programs (available in HD).
laSexta: general programs (available in HD).
Neox: children/teen channel and general programs (available in HD at cable operators).
Nova: woman-oriented programs, lifestyle, TV series and movies (available in HD at cable operators).
Mega: men-oriented programs (available in HD at cable operators).
Atreseries: TV series (only in HD).
Telecinco: general programs (available in HD).
Cuatro: general programs (available in HD).
Factoría de Ficción: TV series and movies.
Divinity: women-oriented programs, lifestyle and celebrity gossip.
Energy: men-oriented programs.
Boing: children channel.
Be Mad TV: young adult male-oriented programs (only in HD).
DMax: free-to-air Discovery Channel documentaries.
Gol: Football and other sports.
SGT Net TV
Disney Channel: free-to-air Disney Channel.
Paramount Channel: free-to-air Paramount Channel movies.
13 TV: Catholic-oriented general programs.
Central Broadcaster Media
TEN: general programs.
DKiss: young adult-oriented general programs.
Real Madrid C.F.
Realmadrid TV HD: the official club channel of Real Madrid C.F. (only in HD).
Monthly viewing shares in January 2017 (Top 10 individual channels):