Spain's first digital terrestrial television (DTT) platform Quiero TV (formerly Onda Digital) starts broadcasting today (May 5) with an initial offer of 14 thematic channels, Internet/e-mail and PPV services.

Quiero is Europe's second DTT platform, after the UK's ONdigital, and the first in the world to offer internet and e-mail via the television.

Describing cinema, sports, children's programming and Internet as the "keystones" of the platform's initial offer, general director Ildefonso de Miguel emphasised that Quiero "will continue growing and adding channels." He pointed specifically to football and the Internet as content areas under negotiation, and said that Quiero is in discussions with Eurosport to jointly launch a new channel.

"As a digital terrestrial platform we have more capacity for memory and therefore more potential for growth than digital satellite," de Miguel said in reference to Quiero's pay-TV rivals in Spain, digital satellite platforms Via Digital and Canal Satelite Digital (CSD).

Quiero's recent signing of an exclusive output accord with Universal and non-exclusive agreements with Paramount and Time Warner/Turner confirmed its entrance as a powerful acquisitions player. Under programming and content division head Gino Natalicchio, Quiero plans to invest $1.8bn (PTS300,000m) in content over the next ten years. That sum could increase depending on the growth of the subscriber base, de Miguel said.

But analysts have long expected the two existing platforms to merge because of a lack of audience and content diversity to sustain both. Indeed, the bulk of Quiero's initial channels are already broadcast on either Via Digital or CSD (see list below). Since their respective launches in 1997, Via Digital has reached more than 500,000 subscribers and CSD 875,000.

Quiero's original offer includes the following channels, alongside a range of PPV services:

  • Studio Universal, the exclusive channel of Universal product.
  • E-Music, an interactive music channel exclusive to Quiero.
  • GeoPlaneta, a travel channel produced exclusively for Quiero by Planeta 2010.
  • Beca, a documentary channel, also from Planeta 2010.
  • The Fiction Factory, a channel dedicated to popular fiction series, supplied by free TV broadcaster TeleCinco and production house GECA.
  • Gran Hermano, the live, 24-hour programme based on Endemol's Big Brother format, already airing on Via Digital.
  • Palomitas, the Media Park-supplied channel of blockbuster films and series for family viewing, also seen on Via Digital.
  • Cinematk, dedicated to indie and arthouse films, also from Media Park and already offered on Via Digital.
  • Showtime Extreme, the action-adventure channel launched internationally in Spain by Showtime and Media Park, seen on Via Digital.
  • Eurosport, also on Via Digital.
  • Buzz, a multi-faceted channel targeted at youth and already on Via Digital.
  • Calle 13, the Spanish version of Universal Television & Networks' terror, suspense and action channel 13th Street, already seen on CSD.
  • Turner Classic Movies, also shown on CSD.
  • Cartoon Network, already on CSD.
  • Quiero will charge $29 a month (PTS4,750) for its basic package and decoder, plus an initial $90 (PTS14,900) in start-up and equipment fees. The company's shareholders include telecoms company Retevision (49%), Media Park (15%), Sofisclave-98 (15%) and the UK's Carlton Communications (7.5%), also a shareholder in ONdigital.