Last January 2023, the BOE finally published the update of the digital television regulations for Spain, according to which “each digital multiplex, regardless of its scope of coverage, must evolve its broadcasts to high definition (HD). before February 14, 2024“
What does this mean? Well, since this date will be mandatory that all digital terrestrial television channels broadcast only in “high definition quality” or “HD”hence current standard definition or “SD” channels will disappear.
The change will be consolidated progressively, since all stations must evolve their systems to high definition before said date. And what does this change mean for users? What will switching to HD channels really provide and what will we need to continue watching TV through the antenna?
What will the new HD channels be like?
The first question that should be made clear is what it means that the DTT channels are in HD, a term that we are already used to in other areas and that unfortunately in this case It does not imply that the broadcasts are in real Full HD.
As we can read on the Ministry’s website and in the BOE itself, in this case the concept of “High Definition” refers to the fact that the emissions will have a minimum of 1280 horizontal pixels by 720 vertical pixels (active lines according to the BOE) with an aspect ratio of 16:9.
This is a clear improvement over current SD channels with vertical resolutions of 576 pixels, but falls short of videos Full HD with resolution of 1,920×1,080 pixels and much more from UHD or 4K with resolutions of 3,840 x 2160 pixels which will still be exclusive only to some networks such as TVE.
Regarding the video coding format, the system will comply with the international telecommunications standard of ITU-T Recommendation H.264: “Advanced video coding for generic audiovisual services”, equivalent to the ISO/IEC 14496 standard. 10, usually called as H.264/MPEG-4 AVC.
The transition of all channels to HD will also bring changes in terms of the sound qualitysince from now on emissions may be 5.1 multichannel in addition to stereo, following the international standard ITU-R BS.1196-7, which will allow the emission of movies with surround sound as well as musical programs with this type of sound, as long as our equipment is compatible.
What will I need to continue watching DTT in HD?
To see DTT in high definition starting in 2024, what we basically need is a screen and TV tuner that supports HD resolutionsomething common if we have bought our TV in the last 15 or less years, but which was not present in previous models.
Furthermore, it may be the case that we have an old TV compatible with HD or HD-Ready images in terms of the amount of resolution of its pixels, but that They do not have an HD tuner insidesomething common in the first plasma and LCD models until 2006-2008.
Therefore, what we have to look at to ensure compatibility is that The television has at least one HD tuner standard compatible DVB-T working over H.264/MPEG-4 AVCand if possible DVB-T2 type compatible with video codecs H.264 and H.265.
According to the Ministry, more than 98% of television sets in Spain They are already compatible with these requirements, although it does not indicate how they have estimated the data or if they have only taken into account the equipment sold after certain dates, so we may still have some non-compatible television at home.
What if my television is not compatible with DTT in HD? Well, either we buy another TV or we can opt for a more economical solution that involves purchase an external decoder for DTT in HD.
In the event that we receive the service of DTT via satellite (TDTSAT) using a decoder that only allows reception in standard definition, it will be necessary to replace it with an HD decoder to continue receiving DTT signals, something that we can consult on this website.
Finally, due to the disappearance of standard definition services and their evolution to high definition, the number of channels found and their position in the channel list may change. This implies that the channels will have to be reordered and/or retuned when February 14 arrives.
Cover image | Digital Spain 2026 on YouTube and Wikipedia
More information | Ministry of Digital Transformation
In Xataka Smart Home | RTVE confirms the date to start regular broadcasts in 4K UHD on DTT. This is what it will take for maximum quality