Digital TV change
I’ve heard a lot about TDT television, but I don’t know exactly what it is. Is it important to foreign residents?
Television shows from back home may well be one of the things most missed by people who live abroad—not being able to follow a favourite soap is definitely enough to make a person homesick. And to make matters worse here, it can be hard to find something worth watching on Spanish television, which mostly seems to offer reality and gossip programmes that make the daytime shows of the UK look positively high-brow. And of course, being in Castilian makes them harder for a foreign viewer to enjoy.
But Spain is in the process of switching to TDT (televisión digital terrestre; terrestrial digital television) and the choices on the box for everyone will be greatly improved. The existing analogue television system will be switched off on April 3rd, 2010 (although the process has already begun in some parts of Catalunya and Spain), and from then on only the TDT system will broadcast. Compared to analogue, TDT can correct errors faster, has a higher quality of image and sound, and, thanks to the compression that occurs, the space previously taken up by one analogue channel is big enough for four, thus increasing the number available. So what exactly do you have to do to make the switch?
Firstly, although the channels are free, you will have to pay out upfront to be able to receive the new signal. There are several options here: firstly, all apartment buildings have to be fitted with a communal TDT aerial before analogue is switched off, so you can just wait for your building to be made TDT-ready (you may well have to contribute to the cost of conversion). If you don’t want to wait, you can buy an internal aerial; if you live in a house, you can choose whether to fit an exterior or interior aerial. Whichever aerial you have and regardless of whether you live in a flat or house, you will need to buy a set-top decoder box, which should cost between €30 and €80. The other, more pricier, option is to buy a completely new television with TDT built in (televisor digital integrado—TVDI); this will cut out the need for the decoder box, but you will still need a digital aerial.
The benefits of digital TV are various: as mentioned abouve, there is a wider choice of channels (currently Barcelona has 41 digital television channels and 23 radio stations) and the quality of the picture is improved (although the digital signal can drop out on a fairly regular, albeit brief, basis leaving you with a black screen). In addition, interactive aspects will mean extras like telebanking, quizzes and news services (for this, make sure you get a decoder box with MHP technology). But perhaps the biggest bonus for foreign residents is the option of being able to watch imported programmes in their original language, great for films and your favourite American sit-com. Although this service is not currently offered by all the digital channels (Td8 is insisting in showing Hercule Poirot dubbed into Castilian), there are enough original version shows to satisfy any English-speaking telly addict.
For more info, see www.tdt.cat (in Catalan)