Argentine television broadcasting began in 1951 with the inaugural of then state-owned Canal 7, developed by Radio Belgrano executive Jaime Yankelevich. Color television broadcasting, however, was not widely available until after 1978, when the government launched Argentina Televisora Color (ATC), now Televisión Pública Argentina (Argentina's principal public television station). Argentina is one of only five Latin American countries to use the PAL broadcast television system and is also one of the only four Spanish-speaking countries to use PAL (the others being Paraguay, Uruguay and Spain). The prevalence of cable television, increasing steadily since the first CATV transmitter opened in the city of Junín in 1965, is now the third-widest in the world, reaching at least 78% of households.
Argentina has adopted the Japanese standard ISDB-T, with modifications performed by Brazil. Initially Argentina had selected ATSC standard in 1998 (Res. 2387/98) which was backed by Grupo Clarin over DVB-T promoted by the biggest incumbent telcos and European cellphone manufacturers like Nokia. There had been experimental ATSC broadcasts since 1999 before the government overruled the decision.
There is an agreement between Brazil and Argentina, signed in the light of the Mercosur trade bloc, where both countries agree to share information, studies and efforts to select the same Digital TV standard.
By August 27, 2009, the Argentine government officially announced that the Japanese standard was adopted, along with Chile and Perú at the same time. The goal behind this political decision is to achieve a wide, free, high quality regional TV.
Major TV broadcasters, namely El Trece and Telefe had been showing off sample digital broadcasts at electronics and media sector shows like the CAPER exhibition, but Canal 13 still hasn't started to broadcast in the now official Argentine standard.
HDTV-ready TV sales are increasing in Argentina, with the first TVs made available since 2005 by local firm Philips. The firm introduced back then three HD-ready (1080i) CRT TVs in 25, 29, and 33-inch versions. These tvs were manufactured in Tierra del Fuego, Argentina and included Pal-N/B and NTSC analogue tuners, plus HD component video inputs. Only a single model, the 25-inch, 16:9 one featured HDMI. As of 2008 the firm has switched to LCDs.
In November 2008, local cable TV firm Cablevision, which merged with Multicanal, started offering its "Cablevision HD" service. This rather expensive offering costs an additional $30 ARS over the standard Digital-TV service price. It uses ATSC and the firm makes mandatory the purchase of its "HD Tuner with DVR" at a cost of around $200 US dollars. As of late 2008 most LCDs advertised as "Full HD" offer at least 1080i signal support.
Cable television had its origins in the 1960s, when a CATV service started to operate in Junín, Buenos Aires. Currently, cable television is available in 5.5 million homes, the best ratio in Latin America and second in the world.
In the 1980s cable operators started operations in the absence of local regulations. Those earlier operators started a merged process which evolved toward the merge of Cablevision and Multicanal, the two biggest cable companies. The resultant company, named Cablevision, is owned by Grupo Clarin, the biggest newspaper in Argentina, who is also the owner of LS85-TV (the 2nd highest-rated TV station in Buenos Aires) TyC the owner of the monopoly of the soccer TV broadcast rights, thus turning into the dominant player.
Some small TV cable companies are operating, but the tendency now is that Cablevision will dominate this market in the future. Telecom Operator, Telefónica and Telecom, the monopoly in the fixed-cellular market is lobbying for opening the market towards the triple play. The Government is opening a window to allow the cable operators to enter in the telephony and extend internet coverage, before fully deregulating this market. In order to operate as a cable company in Argentina, a license from Comfer is required. This license is very difficult to get.
Viewing shares, October 2013:
|Position||Channel||Group||Share of total viewing (%)|
|1||Telefe||Viacom International Media Networks The Americas||8.3%|
|2||El Trece||Grupo Clarín||8.3%|
|3||América 2||Multimedios América||4.9%|
|4||Canal 9||Prime Argentina S.A.||4.7%|
|5||TVP digital||Radio y Televisión Argentina S.E.||3.0%|