TV & Showbiz

Suddenly Hearing Spanish on TV? Check Your Settings!


If you’re watching TV when you suddenly notice you’re hearing Spanish instead of English, here’s the first thing you should check.

From time to time, we’ll receive a call in the newsroom from an angry viewer complaining that they’re hearing Spanish, not English, while watching a program. It seems to happen primarily during sporting events. But it happens during other types of programs once in a while.

“Why are you broadcasting this in Spanish?” they’ll typically ask.

Well, we’re not broadcasting it in Spanish. But more programs these days are taking advantage of technology to provide Spanish-speaking viewers with a way to hear programming in their native language.

Here’s what’s happening

You may see a button on your remote control or an option in your on-screen menu labeled SAP. That stands for “secondary audio program.” The technology allows programs to carry a separate audio track. Most of the time, because of the number of Spanish-speaking people, that second audio track is in Spanish.

If you speak English and you’re watching TV with the “SAP” option off, you hear the normal English track. You’d never know there was a secondary audio track containing a different language.

But if the “SAP” option is on, programming that carries that Spanish track will air with audio in Spanish. The picture will remain the same. Any on-screen graphics or titles will still be in English. But you will be hearing Spanish instead of English.

I’ll give you one more important note. For a good bit of the programming without that secondary audio program, English audio appears on both tracks. That means your television could already be switched to the secondary audio without your knowing it. The only time you would notice, of course, is when a program with Spanish on the secondary audio program begins. That’s when you’re suddenly hearing Spanish and likely scratching your head about what happened.

To fix it, grab your remote and look for an audio or SAP option. Turn it off.

If you’re remote has neither option, go to the on-screen menu settings. You’ll have to navigate to audio controls. Look for “SAP” or “Audio.” (Be careful about selecting a “Language” option that isn’t connected with audio: That could change your TV’s menu language but have no effect on the sound.)

That one setting will almost always solve the issue, but it’s something you have to change on your own TV.

A television station won’t be able to help you with that one. The power is in your hands!

the authorPatrick
Patrick is a Christian with more than 30 years experience in professional writing, producing and marketing. His professional background also includes social media, reporting for broadcast television and the web, directing, videography and photography. He enjoys getting to know people over coffee and spending time with his dog.