About the Project
History of programming and television fiction programs in Spain (generalist channel): From deregulation to analog blackout, 1990-2010

The current Spanish television fiction is the result of the big change experienced from deregulation, consequence of the creation of private channels and the development of autonomous ones, the rise of independent production and the professionalization of the audiovisual sector. By the end of the nineties the search for narrative formats was intensified, aimed to improve aesthetic quality, while genres were broadened with the making of TV series located in professional settings. Genres and formats explored new ways to adapt the preferences of the audience and the multi-drama strategies characteristics of TV seriality. In the meantime, the social, economic, cultural and technological changes undergoing in Spain at the turn of the century were causing a fundamental shift in the modes of representation and consumption.

The development of the telecommunications infrastructures (the ADSL lines were implemented in Spain in 2000) and the new home equipment (plasma TVs, video game consoles, mobile phones, music players, DVD players, decoders, etc.), made possible new forms of entertainment. These changes indelibly transformed TV consumption and segmented and individualized the wide and standardized audience of previous decades. From that moment on, the dominant massive model of generalist television, opted for a more specific targeting of the audience, by modifying the traditional symbolic references of the collective imagination about Spanish fiction.

Spanish television fiction research

Milly Buonanno and a group of European researchers founded in 1996 EUROFICTION, an observatory dedicated to the comparative study of television fiction produced in Germany, Great Britain, Spain, France and Italy, funded by the European Audiovisual Observatory (EAO). The founding members of the Spanish team and authors of the different studies on the topic, published by EAO and RAI between 1996 and 2001, were Rosa A. Berciano, Charo Lacalle and Lorenzo Vilches. Carlos Arranz substituted Rosa A. Berciano in 2002. The methodology of EUROFICTION inspired OBITEL (http://obitel.org), an Ibero-American Observatory of Television Fiction funded in 2007 by Rede Globo (Brazil), whose Spanish team is coordinated by Charo Lacalle, also director of OFENT-Observatorio de Spanish Fiction and New Technologies (http://ofent.net). Like EUROFICTION, OBITEL publishes an annual report (in Spanish, Portuguese and English), which includes the group's work. Lacalle is also the author of the section on Catalan fiction included in the annual reports of the Catalan Audiovisual Council (CAC) that were published between 2004 and 2010.

After the pioneering initiative of EUROFICTION, the rise of Spanish fiction since the mid-nineties has led to a growing number of studies on the subject. However, the heterogeneity of the contributions and the lack of contextual perspective in many of the works show the need to develop a systematic history of television fiction, in order to help researchers to properly contextualize the object of study.

A large part of the research on Spanish TV fiction adopts a gender perspective or focuses on young people and teenagers, the favourite targets of Spanish television fiction. Content analysis of representations and reception studies (focus group, interviews, questionnaires and surveys) are the most used methodologies, although the integration of quantitative and qualitative methods remains little practiced. Analysis of characters and stereotypes are the most common approaches, along with historical memory, national identity, health, immigration, family and professional roles, etc. There is also a growing interest on the relationship between television fiction and the Internet.

Reception analysis

Lacalle (2010a) includes a brief summary of the research on Spanish television fiction in the historical overview of studies focused on effects. Medrano, Aierbe and Onejudo (2009) argue that the main differences in TV reception are related to the external aspects such as parental control, which is more rigid in the case of girls. Aran (2010) highlights the high level of understanding of television discourses by the adolescents and points out that they tend to be very critical in relation to the social representation of gender in fiction. Ramajo et al. (2008) find the interviewees consider the representation of the female characters stereotyped and unrealistic. Lacalle emphasizes the role of fiction in the transmission of social values, and she notices the possible impact of neoliberal models of consumption and leisure ib young people (Lacalle, 2012, 2013 and 2016a). The study of Lacalle and Pujol (2016) about the relevance of gender and generation in the perception, confirms the influence of the generation gap in the preferences of viewers and their different ways of watching television. It also reveals that the willingness of women in maintaining and prolonging visual pleasure, helps to lessen the digital divide between older and younger women participants.

Fiction and internet

Galán and del Pino (2010) examine the commercial strategies of web 3.0 and El Internado used by Antena3 to attract young viewers. The young Spaniards surveyed by López, González and Medina (2011) prefer to use the Internet in order to build their own choice of TV shows. These findings were confirmed by Navarro, González, Massana, et. to the. (2012), as well as by Lacalle (2012), who also highlights that young people watch more fiction on the Internet and comment the shows more than the rest of TV targets. Morales and Hernández (2012) study the Spanish production of webseries in 2010. Ramos, Lozano and Hernández-Santolalla (2012) analysed the advertising strategy of television series based on the fan phenomenon, and concluded that the creations of the fandom groups promote the programs positively and have a high degree of virality. OFENT 's research on transmediality of Spanish fiction (Lacalle, 2013) reconstructs the relations between television fiction and the Internet, and examines in detail different topics of discussion dedicated to the TV programs in forums and social networks. Lacalle and Castro (2016), find channels do not profit enough the fans' promotion of TV fiction in social networks. The study of Lacalle and Pujol (2017) highlights that the users' interactions reveal their wish to express and share feelings and emotions, as a result of the connection between the programs and their daily life. Lacalle and Castro (2018) conclude in their analysis of the fans' discourses that the Internet confirms the potential of television fiction in stimulating reflection on identity construction of female users.

Historical memory

Galán (2007b) underlines the prevalence of social context in the reconstruction of the past made by Spanish TV fiction. Chicharro and Rueda (2008) consider that the narrative approach of the TV series Amar en tiempos revueltos [Love in Difficult Times] increases the viewer's involvement in the messages. Rueda and Guerra (2009) argue that the evocation of the past in current Spanish television fiction seeks the recognition and empathy of the audience, by appealing to nostalgia and cultural adaptation of the stories to the present. Palacio and Ciller's (2010) approach to the Spanish fiction programming set in the past highlights the will to maintain the idea of the nation-state that characterizes these programs. Castillo, Simelio and Ruiz (2012) relate the success of fiction set in the past with the interest of viewers on the topics addressed to public discussion. Lacalle (2018) analyses the Spanish fiction of the eighties and highlights the role of miniseries set in the past in the recovery of historical memory.

Health and sexuality

Lacalle (2005) examines the evolution of representation of AIDS patients between 1995 and 2004 and highlights the didactic nature of Spanish fiction in this regard. In another study on medical fiction broadcast on Spanish television (Lacalle, 2008b), the author analyses the representation of medical personnel in domestic fiction. Guarinos (2009) compares the representation of adolescents in Spanish and North American fiction, and states that the representations of Spanish fiction are more transgressive and progressive than the American ones, particularly in relation to sexuality. The study by Masanet, Medina and Farrés (2012) shows that affective relationships (romantic and sexual) play a very important role in the series aimed at young people. Capdevila, Araüna and Tortajada (2011) analyse the adaptation of the Colombian telenovela Sin tetas no hay paraíso and criticise the persistence of the traditional patriarchal model in the representation of women and sexuality. Lacalle and Castro (2017) study representations of female sexuality.


The didactic nature of Spanish television fiction is also revealed in Lacalle's (2008a) analysis of representation of immigration in the programs broadcasted between 1999 and 2007. On the contrary, Igartúa et al. (2011) state that the construction of the immigrant-foreigner in television fiction broadcasted in prime time is biased and stereotyped.

Influences and adaptations

Cascajosa (2007), as well as Canovaca (2011), confirm influence of North American series on the contents of Spanish fiction. Diego and Grandío (2009) examine the influence of Friends (NBC: 1994-2004) on 7 lives (7 vidas) (Tele5: 1999-2006). Castelló (2010) attributes the success of proximity fiction to the process of cultural adaptation of North American fiction. Chicharro (2011) confirms the institutionalization of the "formula" of telenovelas in what she calls "national soap opera". Canovaca (2013) highlights the "mimetic" nature of the Spanish adaptations, although he notes in the dialogues that they include their own references. Lacalle (2016b) analyzes the intersemiotic translation carried out by Adolfo Aristarian in Las aventuras de Pepe Carvallho, from the scripts by Manuel Vázquez Montalbán and Domènech Font.


Diego and Pardo (2008) examine the concept, the product and the export of family dramedies, while Diego and Herrero (2009) focus on the series of Tele5 Family Doctor. Medina (2009) studies the economic exploitation of family series, and Cortés (2008) its programming. The OFENT group (Lacalle, 2013) analyzes the young characters of Spanish television fiction released between 2011 and 2012. Lacalle and Gómez (2016) focus on the representation of women in the family context of Spanish fiction, and Lacalle and Hidalgo (2016) in its evolution. Hidalgo (2018) studies family comedies released from 1990 to 2010, and Lacalle and Sánchez (2016) representations of motherhood.


Lacalle (2011a) interviews script writers and directors about characteristics and productive process of making young characters. Patricia Diego (2005) analyses the figure of producer of television fiction. Simelio and Forga (2014) show that the number of women behind the cameras is still much smaller than that of men. Lacalle and Gómez (2016) study the representation of working women and find that stereotypes linked to traditional representations of women's jobs (work related to public sector and care) coexist with other highly qualified professions.

National and cultural identity

The study of autonomous channels' TV serials carried out by Castelló (2004) relates distinctive cultural aspects with their success . Rueda and Chicharro (2006) examine the differential elements of reception in Spain, from the Franco era to the beginning of the 21st century. Castelló (2007) analyses the role of television fiction in the construction of national identity, a thesis consistent with the existence of interpretive dissonances between Spanish and Catalan speakers identified by Martínez Gandía, Castelló and López (2007). The cultural construction of Catalanness is evident in the discourse analysis of the serial Ventdelplà (TV3), made by Lacalle (2010), and in the study of the reception of the sitcom Plats Bruts (TV3), by Martínez Gandía (2009). Castelló (2010) attributes success of proximity fiction to the adaptation of North American fiction to the place where domestic programs are produced and consumed.

Other topics related to children, young & women

Pérez-Chica (2008) finds that the image of children and youngsters in television stories aimed to this target is defined by interests of the audiovisual market. The research of Galán Fajardo (2008a) highlights that television fiction constructs identity models whose repeated imitation contributes to strengthening them. Belmonte and Guillamón (2008) argue that gender stereotypes act as models of inequality in the construction of identity of young people. The woman who emerges from the study of Sánchez Aranda et al. (2011) has initiative and is authoritarian and even ambitious. Tous, Meso and Simelio (2013) show the didactic side of the construction of the characters in two Catalan and Basque serials. The OFENT research (Lacalle, 2013) on young characters (15-29 years) of Spanish fiction broadcast between 2010 and 2011 reveals the educational potential of the programs.

History of TV Fiction

Diego and Grandío (2014) identify the main characteristics of the comedies produced by TVE between 1956 and 1975. Lacalle (2018) reconstructs the history of fiction produced and broadcast by TVE in the eighties.


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