The aim of this paper is to describe the terms by which access practices are currently being carried out in Spain as a primary form of interaction between viewers and stations, and to determine the maximum level of audience participation in the management, programme production and/or programme planning of television stations. Because of the dictatorship in which it originated and developed, Spain constitutes a singular case in Western Europe as far as the regulation and practices of access to television are concerned. Analysis of the Spanish model on the one hand illustrates the role of local communication media as vehicles for civic access and participation, and in particular, an especially charismatic medium such as local television in the context of political democratic transition. On the other hand it shows that in a situation of “democratic normalcy”, access to and participation in television increasingly has become more a legally-recognized right than an active and direct practice on the part of the citizens. The fierce competition within Spanish television has without a doubt prompted public television stations to place quantitative aims in the foreground, offering few concessions to those “public service” responsibilities such as access and participation on the part of the citizens that might mean a drop in ratings. © 1996, Sage Publications. All rights reserved.