Liberalisation of telecommunications and broadening of the value chain in Southern Europe. Telefónica, 1982–2000

Keywords: liberalisation of telecommunications, Telefónica, cable telelevision, value chain


This article deals with the opening of telecommunications to competition and its determinants in Spain, a country seriously committed to the monopoly. It is framed in the general scenario of an accelerated technological change driven by new materials, components and transmission systems, a sharp regulatory change and an extension of the value chain with new products and services, in particular data, mobile telephony and cable. Such properties fit perfectly with the time axis chosen which comprises the two last decades of the 20th century and coincide with a phase in which the protagonist company is facing the challenge not only of liberalisation but also of a profound change in the parameters of the market. The study focuses on Telefónica's response to new regulatory and market requirements. Methodologically, it revolves around the multidisciplinary nature, which integrates the approach of the history of technology understood as a system (Thomas P. Hugues and Melvin Kranzberg) and the economic and business history (Nathan Rosenberg). The text is structured in four sections that examine the persistence of the monopoly of Telefonica and liberalisation, the axes of Telefónica's transformation through global and strategic plans and the broadening of the value chain, focussed on the cable market. Some preliminary historical and technical issues and key elements in the evolution of the sector are addressed. The text attends to the relations between the market structure inherited from the monopoly and the process, from which the advantages of Telefónica with the rest of the companies emanate. The research rests mainly on primary sources of the company studied, twice as valuable because they are difficult to access by researchers and perfectly determined to grasp the company's strategy, as well as on reports from major international institutions and secondary literature. The conclusion deals with the methodological consideration of the close link between supply and demand-related factors.


Download data is not yet available.


Adizes, I. (2004). Managing corporate lifecycles. Santa Bárbara CA: The adizes institute publishing.

Binda, V. (2013). The dynamics of big business: structure, strategy, and impact in Italy and Spain. London: Routledge.

Boletín Oficial del Estado.

Calvo, A. (2016). Historia de telefónica: 1976–2000. Las telecomunicaciones en la España democrática. Barcelona: Ariel [in Spanish].

Chandler, A. (1990). Scale and scope. Cambridge, MA: Cambridge University Press.

Donaldson, G. (1994). Corporate restructuring: Managing the change process from within. Boston, MA: Harvard Business Press.

Eijk, N. A. N. M. (1995). Cable Television Networks in Europe. Retrieved from

Compañía Telefónica Nacional de España, Memoria [in Spanish].

Dul, J., & Hak, T. (2008). Methodology in business research. Amsterdam, Boston, Heilderberg: Blutterworth-Heinemann.

El Mundo [in Spanish].

El País [in Spanish].

European Audiovisual Observatory. (2004). Regulating Access to Digital Television. Strasbourg: European Audiovisual Observatory.

Fernández, R. V. (2000). La televisión por cable en España. Análisis y formulación de estrategias para los nuevos operadores (Doctoral dissertation, Universidad de Málaga) [in Spanish].

Frèches, J. (1987). La Télévision par câble. Paris: PUF [in French].

From, J., & Eliassen, K. A. (2007). The Privatisation of European Telecommunications. Hampshire: Ashgate.

General Accounting Office (2003). Telecommunications issues related to competition and subscriber rates in the cable television industry. Darby, PA: DIANE Publishing.

Giordano, E., & ‎Zeller, C. (1999). Políticas de televisión: la configuración del mercado. Barcelona: Icaria Editorial [in Spanish].

Hollensen, S. (2012). Global marketing: a decision-oriented approach. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Financial Times Prentice Hall.

Hugues, Th. P. (1983). Networks of Power. Electrification in Western Society, 1880–1930. Boulder, CO: Westview Press.

Jakopin, N. M. (2008). Internationalisation in the telecommunications services industry: literature review and research agenda. Telecommunications Policy, 32(8), 531–544.

Journal of Sessions, Congress of Deputies, Commissions.

Kalotay, K. (2004). The rise of foreign direct investment in the telecommunications services of developing countries. The Journal of World Investment & Trade, 5(5), 811–832.

Kranzberg, M. (1986). Technology and history: ‘Kranzberg's Laws’. Technology and Culture, 27(3), 544–560.

Lange, A. (2005). The financial situation of television companies in the European Union (1999–2004). Strasbourg: Council of Europe.

Leontiades, J. C. (1987). Multinational corporate strategy: planning for world markets. New York: Lexington Books.

Libros de Actas del Consejo de Administración, LACA.

Little, A. D. (1997). Cable review, report to the european commission (DG IV), July. Retrieved from

Magoun, A. B. (2007). Television: the life story of a technology. Westport, CT: Greenwood Publishing Group.

Martí-Recober, M. (1991). Llibre blanc sobre les telecomunicacions a Catalunya. Barcelona: Generalitat de Catalunya and Telefónica [in Catalan].

Mayntz, R., & Hughes, T. P. (1988). The development of large technical systems. Frankfurt & Boulder: Westview and Campus.

Merger Court Report, CNMV, C21/95: CABLEVISION, 14 March 1996.

Miguel, J. C., & Fernández Peña, E. (1998). Las alianzas en el inicio del mercado del cable en España: un enfoque institucional. Revista de estudios de comunicación, 3(4), 1–10 [in Spanish].

Montes, F. J. (2016). Historia de la televisión por cable en España. 1994 –1996 (II). Anuario Jurídico y Económico Escurialense, XLIX, 549–578 [in Spanish].

Mullen, M. (2008). Television in the multichannel age: a brief history of cable television. Malden, MA: Wiley-Blackwell.

New York Times, December 19, 1971, p. 10.

OECD (2000). Reviews of Regulatory Reform: Regulatory Reform in Spain 2000. Paris: COIT.

Pérez Martínez, J., & Feijóo González, C. (2000). Convergencia, competencia y regulación en los mercados de las telecomunicaciones, el audiovisual e Internet. Madrid, Editorial GRETEL, 83 [in Spanish].

Pérez-Gómez, M. Á. (2011). Previously On. Estudios interdisciplinarios sobre la ficción televisiva en la Tercera Edad de Oro de la Televisión [in Spanish].

Rosenberg, N. (1982). Inside the black box: technology and economics. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Secretaría General de Economía y Planificación. (1985). Programa económico a medio plazo. Vol. 5. Madrid: Ministerio de Economía y Hacienda [in Spanish].

Sloan Commission on Cable Communications. (1971). On the cable: the television of abundance: report. New York: McGraw-Hill Book Co.

Spain, P. J., & Talbot, J. R. (Eds.). (1995). Hoover's Handbook of American Companies 1996. Austin, TX: Hoovers Incorporated.

Svedberg, B. (1981). Ericsson Towards the 1990s.

Telefónica, Memoria.

Wheeler, Th. E. (1981). Statement, rural telecommunications: hearing before the subcommittee on communications of the committee on commerce, science, and transportation. United States Senate, Ninety-seventh Congress, June 22. Washington: U.S. Government Printing Office.

Whittington, R., & Mayer, M. (2000). The European corporation: strategy, structure, and social science. Oxford: Oxford University Press on Demand.

Wormbs, N. (1997). Through thread and ether. The emergence of the distribution network for radio and television [in Swedish]. Stockholm: Norstedt.

Abstract views: 64
PDF Downloads: 24
How to Cite
Calvo, Ángel. (2020). Liberalisation of telecommunications and broadening of the value chain in Southern Europe. Telefónica, 1982–2000. History of Science and Technology, 10(2), 185-216.