Television in Mexico

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Television is a popular form of entertainment in Mexico, with mass entertainment playing an important role in creating a national, unified culture.[1]

Network television[edit]

Mexico has four national commercial television networks reaching 75% or more of the population. Two are owned by Televisa, the Canal de las Estrellas and Canal 5 networks, while TV Azteca owns the Azteca 7 and Azteca Uno networks.

There are also several other commercial networks with less than 75% national reach. Chief among these are Televisa's NU9VE, which in some areas shares time with regional programming, and Multimedios Televisión, which broadcasts mostly in northeastern Mexico.

Noncommercially, Canal Once operated by the Instituto Politécnico Nacional is the oldest educational television service in Latin America. The Sistema Público de Radiodifusión del Estado Mexicano (SPR) operates a network of digital retransmitters which offer multiple public television stations, including Canal 22, teveunam, Ingenio TV and its own Una Voz con Todos. As SPR's national transmitter network complements that of Canal Once, almost all of its stations also retransmit that network.

Television genres[edit]


In Mexico, telenovelas usually involve a romantic couple that encounters many problems throughout the show's run, a villain and usually ends with a wedding. One common ending archetype, consists of a wedding, and with the villain dying, going to jail, becoming permanently injured or disabled, or losing his/her mind.


Television in Mexico first began in August 19, 1946 in Mexico City when Guillermo González Camarena transmitted the first television signal in Latin America from the bathroom of his home. On September 7, 1946 at 8:30 PM (CST) Mexico’s and Latin America’s first experimental television station was established and was given the XE1GC callsign. This experimental station broadcast an artistic program and interviews on Saturdays for two years.[2]

Mexico’s first commercial station, XHTV channel 4 in Mexico City, signed on August 31, 1950, making Mexico the first Spanish-speaking country to introduce television. It started transmitting regular programs on the following day. The first program to be broadcast was President Miguel Alemán Valdés IV Informe de Gobierno.[3] Within a year, XEW-TV channel 2, owned by the Azcárraga family, was formed. Mexico's first color television transmission was carried out by the third television station in the capital, González Camarena's XHGC Canal 5. In 1955, all three stations formed an alliance, Telesistema Mexicano (TSM), the predecessor to Televisa. In 1959, XEIPN-TV channel 11 signed on, the base of today's Canal Once network and the first educational television station in Latin America.

Broadcast expansion[edit]

With the exception of the short-lived but popular Televisión Independiente de México (1968–72), which TSM absorbed in 1973 to form Televisa, the latter saw no major commercial competition until 1993. Instead, the 1970s, 1980s and early 1990s were marked by a large expansion in state-owned television. This took flight in 1972 when the government, through financier SOMEX, expropriated XHDF-TV in Mexico City and used it to form the base of a Canal 13 national network with repeaters across the country. At the same time, a project known as Televisión Rural de México (later Televisión de la República Mexicana) sought to bring culture and information to rural Mexican audiences. In the 1980s, XHTRM-TV channel 22, the first UHF television station in the Valle de México, came to air bringing TRM programming to the nation's capital. In 1985, TRM was dismantled, and with the sign-on of XHIMT-TV channel 7 in Mexico City, the TRM repeaters were linked to that station, which became the flagship of the Red Nacional 7 of Imevisión. In 1993, Imevisión's privatization gave birth to Televisión Azteca.

This time period also saw the development of the first television networks run by state governments, including TVMÁS in Veracruz and TeleMichoacán. 25 of Mexico's 32 federal entities currently boast state networks.

Cable television[edit]

The first cable system started to operate in the early 1960s in Monterrey, as a CATV service (an antenna at the top of the Loma Larga, which could get TV signals from Laredo, Texas and the Rio Grande Valley). Most of the other major cities didn't develop cable systems until the late 1980s, due to government censorship. By 1989, the industry had had a major impulse with the founding of Multivisión—a MMDS system who started to develop its own channels in Spanish—and the later development of companies such as Cablemás and Megacable.

Over the past few years, many US networks have started to develop content for the Latin American market, such as CNN en Español, MTV, Cartoon Network, Disney Channel, Nickelodeon, and others. The country also has a DTH service called SKY (Televisa & News Corp. owned). Recently DirecTV merged with Sky. The dominant company nowadays is Megacable and Grupo HEVI.

Digital television[edit]

In 2011, Kate del Castillo known for her lead role in the telenovela Muchachitas for Televisa in 1989. Subsequently, del Castillo has worked in several American TV series and had supporting roles in Hollywood feature films and in Ingobernable a Mexican political drama web television series premiered on Netflix on 24 March 2017

Televisa made experimental HDTV broadcasts in the early-1990s, in collaboration with Japan's NHK.

Eiza González In 2007, she gained popularity for her debut role as "Lola" in the Mexican teen-oriented musical telenovela Lola...Érase una vez. She currently plays Santanico Pandemonium on the television show From Dusk till Dawn: The Series.

However, the digital television transition saw the government devise several switchover plans, none of which stuck. In 2004, the government adopted the same ATSC standard as the United States and sought to end analog television by December 31, 2016. In major markets, particularly in central Mexico and along the US border, digital television stations began to come on air.

A revised plan in 2013 saw a change to switching off television markets separately until a national analog shutoff, set for December 31, 2015. The first market to meet the conditions of 90% digital penetration was Tijuana. After a one-month delay to ensure that digital penetration had crossed the 90% threshold, signals were turned off on May 28. However, Cofetel allowed the Tijuana stations to resume analog broadcasting just a few days later over concerns that the switchover would have a negative impact in the lead up to state elections on July 7; the switchover occurred for good on July 18.[4]

Delays continued due to legal concerns and the telecommunications reform of 2013–14 promulgated by President Enrique Peña Nieto, which required entirely new legislation in the sector and created the new Federal Telecommunications Institute. However, digital switchover got back on track in 2015 when Reynosa/Matamoros and Nuevo Laredo switched off on January 13, the first of ten dates that year on which stations in various regions of the country shut off. By December 31, all high-power stations had shut off, with some 500 low-power stations remaining in service for an additional year due to the financial difficulties encountered by public broadcasters in transitioning and the existence of unprepared repeater stations.

Cable channels[edit]

  • American Network – ABC and CBS' best. Available only in Mexico.
  • De Pelicula – Mexican cinema from the Golden Era. Available in Mexico, Latin America, United States, Europe, Australia and New Zealand.
  • Telehit – Hit Music Network. Mexico and U.S.
  • TL Novelas – Televisa's most famous soap operas. Pan American, European and Australian Versions.
  • Unicable – Univision and low-cost productions.
  • TVC – Magazine Network. Available in all Mexican States but DF. Produced by major cable-system provider PCTV.
  • Platino – B-Movies.

Further reading[edit]

  • Mejía Barquera, Fernando. La industria de la radio y televisión y la política del estado mexicano (1920-1960). Mexico City: Fundación Manuel Buendía 1989.
  • Saragoza, Alex M. "Television." Encyclopedia of Mexico. Chicago: Fitzroy Dearborn, 1997, pp. 1397-1400.
  • Trejo Delarbre, Raúl, ed. Televisa: El quinto poder. Mexico City: Claves Latinoamerianas 1985.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Howard F. Cline, Mexico: Revolution to Evolution, 1940–1960. New York: Oxford University Press 1963, p. 66-67.
  2. ^ Latin America's first experimental television station (in Spanish) Archived 2013-09-21 at the Wayback Machine.
  3. ^ XHTV first television station in Latin America (in Spanish) Archived 2011-10-06 at the Wayback Machine.
  4. ^ "Ahora sí, habrá apagón analógico este jueves en Tijuana". Animal Político. 2013-07-17. Retrieved 2013-07-17.  (Spanish)

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