The present structure of the public television system dates from 1980, the date of the promulgation of the Radio and Television Statute, which established diverse groups for control of the medium on behalf of Parliament. An Administrative Council was created at that time, directly designated by the Congress and the Senate as well as the Parliamentary Control Commission for RTVE.
After thirty years in existence, Spanish television is going through a stage of profound transformation. The impact of new technology, above all of cable and satellite television, and the variation in ideological concepts, that have affected the history of television in all Europe, is inaugurating a completely new period.
The Spanish television system has appreciably varied during the last few years with the disappearance of the public monopoly on television and the appearance of three new private channels, once the law presented to Parliament by the PSOE government goes into effect. Up to the present, two national networks and nine regional ones have existed, all of them public entity RTVE, run by a general director designated by the Government. The Administrative Council is entrusted with controlling the RTVE and, in particular the fulfilment of its statute. The regional channels depend on the Autonomous Communities' governments and have control mechanisms similar to those of RTVE.
The RTVE's two channels are called TVE 1 and TVE 2. The first is directed to a general public, offering uninterrupted programming from early morning to late night and has the largest audience, despite the intense competition registered since private television appeared. TVE 2 has a flexible programming, which lends special attention to sports broadcasts and live broadcast of important cultural events. Its television coverage and its audience have grown considerably over the last few years reaching, in 1994, an audience of almost 6 million viewers. Both channels are financed by publicity and their income also allows them to defray the costs of public state radio.
Private TV networks began to be launched in 1990. ANTENA 3 was the first channel to operate, followed by TELE 5, and finally by CANAL PLUS in 1990.
Spanish viewers’ preferences hardly differ from those of other Western European countries. Sports, live game shows, movies and films made for television, both local and foreign, the latter are essentially North American or Latin American; dominate prime time hours which attract the largest audiences.