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Monday, September 10, 2007 (read 21376 times)

Spanish television - and some TV related phrases to learn

by Erin

Here's another practical "living in Spain" lesson published by don Quijote in English language media (primarily for a British audience) here in Spain.

Read through… you 'll find vocabulary to learn at the end of the article.

Living in Spain: Spanish Television

Whether it's soap operas, game shows, chat shows, sports or news you want to watch, you're guaranteed to find something that tickles your fancy on Spanish TV. Although not necessarily renowned for its quality, you cannot fault the energy and enthusiasm of the Spanish media. Live audiences, immaculately turned out hosts and plenty of drama (whatever the show!) lead you to laugh, but you'll inevitably be glued to the screen.

Ready for TV? Pick up a copy of one of Spain's most popular publications, "Teleprograma", and check out what's on. Beware, however, that Spanish television schedules are 'flexible' and programmes will often start up to an hour early or late. Go on… take a break from the social scene and have a night in… it's great practice for your Spanish!

Considering that only 6% of Spain's population receive cable, Spain's four main national broadcasters and its numerous regional television stations, available on terrestrial TV are extremely popular. Of course digital, cable and satellite are also now widely available too. So, what to watch? Here is a guide to what kind of shows each channel provides, how to make sure you catch the news and avoid "Big Brother"…

TVE (Television Española)
TVE is Spain's answer to the BBC. It is a partly state-owned public broadcaster that is financed by the government and also raises capital through advertising. TVE has two main channels TVE1 (known as Primera - "the first") and TVE2 (known as La 2 - "the second"). Primera is more light-hearted than La 2 and, not surprisingly, attracts around triple the viewers. TVE aired its first broadcast in October 1956 and until the 1980's Primera and La 2 were Spain's only channels.

TVE1 has regular news bulletins entitled Teledario and TVE2 plays host to La 2 Noticias (The News at 10). Regional news broadcasts are made at 13.00 and 21.00 on TVE1. Being state-financed TVE are naturally accused of being manipulated by the government, despite the lifting of censorship restrictions that were in place under Franco. In spite of this, TVE is still the biggest television company in the country attracting around 30% of Spanish audiences.

Like the BBC, it has recently launched a number of specialised digital channels which include:
Canal 24 Horas (24 hours news channel)
Canal Clásico (Classical music) not available on digital
Clan TVE (Children's channel)
Docu TV (Documentaries) not available on digital
Teledeporte (Sport)
TVE 50 años (Archive material)

Antena 3
Perhaps the equivalent of the UK's ITV and largely owned by Telefonica, Antena 3 is known for its dramas, soap operas and game-shows, exemplified by one of its most popular programmes, the morning magazine show, Espejo Publico (Public Mirror). It is a channel aimed at families and, coming in just behind TVE, it attracts 20% of Spain's audience.

Antena 3 is big on Reality TV and American imports, notably it airs the massive hit TV show "24" and "The Simpsons" (at least 3 times a day). This cult station has tried to reduce its reliance on Spanish dramas and sit-coms by introducing a new magazine show called En Antena hosted by the channel's pretty-boy Jaime Cantizano, the show includes tabloid gossip, current affairs and a lie detector test!

You can catch up on the latest European football action on Antena since the channel has the rights to the UEFA Champions League. In terms of digital, Antena also provides Antena.Nova, showing lifestyle programmes and films and Antena.Neox, which offers children´s entertainment.

Known as "the entertainment channel", Spain's first private station is also jam-packed with American imports and reality TV. Telecinco plays host to Gran Hermano (Big Brother), Desafio Bajo Cero (Dancing on Ice) and Operacion Triunfo (Fame Academy). Although it mostly consists of game-shows and soap-operas, Telecinco is the channel most independent of government and consequently offers the least biased news and plenty of political satire.

Privately established in 2005, Cuatro struck a deal with the Spanish FA (RFEF) and the national football team to show all of their matches. They snatched the deal away from TVE who held the licence for years! Yet again a long list of dubbed American shows fills the columns devoted to Cuatro in Teleprograma. Here you can catch "Alias", "Scrubs", "Friends", "Grey's Anatomy" and also Ricky Gervais's "The Office".

Canal+ (pronounced "Canal Plus")
Of particular interest to foreigners in Spain is Canal+ which, although modelled on the French station, actually has no connection to it. It shows the English Premiership and many new films, often in the original language with Spanish subtitles. It is however a digital channel, but if football and film are what you're looking for it's well worth the investment.

Regional Stations
Regional stations are big business all over Spain, including in Valencia. Many of them, for example in the Basque region and in Galicia, are broadcast in regional languages and are controlled and sponsored by regional governments. On the Costa Blanca it is possible to receive Canal 9 - Estudio 8. In addition to the local news, this channel broadcasts some cult classics such as "Baywatch", "the Cosby Show", "Bewitched" and "Monk".

TV for Foreigners
There are no longer any channels for foreigners in Spain although it is often possible to pick up Gibraltar's GBC which broadcasts BBC programmes. However, if you are lucky enough to receive this channel the quality is often poor and you are better off setting up a digital box or satellite. Digital TV is offered by two companies, they are Canal Satélite Digital and Via digital.

So from cheesy game shows, gripping telenovelas (soap operas) and embarrasssing reality TV to thrilling sports matches, revealing chat shows and The Simpsons-- Spanish TV has it all. What are you waiting for? Kick off your shoes, snuggle up and grab the remote!


  • TV Programme Programa de Televisión
  • Cartoon Dibujos Animados
  • Comedy Comedia
  • News Noticias
  • Soap Opera Telenovela
  • Chat Show Programa de Entrevistas
  • Sports Programme Programa de Deportes
  • Football Match Partido de Fútbol
  • Weather Forecast Parte Meteorológico
  • Film Película
  • Reality TV Reality
  • Channel Canal / Cadena
  • Remote Control Mando a Distancia
  • Satellite Dish Satélite
  • Dubbed Doblado
  • Subtitles Subtítulos

Keywords: vocabulary,spanish,spain,resources,culture,beginners


1 » student exchange (on Friday, January 28, 2011) said:

I wanted to thank for this great read!I really enjoyed reading.

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