Open-air television will continue to be the most popular communications media in Chile, where the recent adoption of the Japanese digital standard is expected to make it stronger in the coming years. Local university channels founded back in the 50s that are still mainstream, a State signal which became a model of efficiency and private channels which came in for their slice of the pie share the electromagnetic spectrum. All together, there are six domestic public television channels, with their signals reproduced in the paid cable TV system and the Internet.
TV host Mario Kreutzberger, Don Francisco, is undeniably the most visible local TV personality. Created in 1962 at Canal 13 studios in Santiago, his program Sábado Gigante has a Guinness world record as the longest-running TV variety show. The program has been produced by Univisión in the US city of Miami since the mid-80s and the program is broadcasted throughout all of Latin America.
Other local production flagship products are journalism programs based on social realities that have helped to unmask several criminals. The most renowned of these programs, which have been copied by other channels, are Informe Especial, running for the last 25 years, and Contacto, aired since 1991.
Over the last decade, the media have included performers, athletes and models, among others, in the local jet set. This content drew audience attention and has led to important repercussions in both the written press and TV. Something similar happened since 2003 with the first reality shows, which currently add up to over one dozen programs.
Televisión Nacional de Chile (TVN) has been on the air since 1969 and evidences a unique management model (self-financing and a leading position in terms of audience and advertising) as an autonomous State-owned public company, whose board of directors is appointed by the President of the Republic. The channel’s soap operas have been exported to other countries and the format for some of its programs, such as the talent show Rojo, has been licensed for other Latin American countries.
Its international channel (TV Chile) was broadcast to the rest of the world for the first time in 1989. This channel can currently be viewed as part of the pay TV systems in several countries and also on the Internet. The channel also has an exclusive branch for news, which can currently only be viewed on cable TV.
Managed by Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile (PUC), Canal 13 has been broadcasting since 1959 and underwent its acid test with the transmission of the World Soccer Cup held in Chile three years later, coinciding with the Sábado Gigante premiere. The company also has a second cable TV channel and a third 24-hour online news channel.
A third domestic TV actor is Chilevisión, founded in 1960 under the wing of Universidad de Chile. Since 1993, the channel was owned by the Venezuelan group Cisneros (associated to Venevisión), the Claxson consortium and currently by the national entrepreneur and politician Sebastián Piñera.
The first TV station was Universidad Católica de Valparaíso (UCV TV), which started broadcasting in 1957 and is currently the only nationwide broadcast station located out of Santiago.
23 October 1990 marked the appearance of MEGA as the first strictly privately-owned public television channel, economically and strategically backed by Televisa, which chose to sell its stake in the company in 1999. The channel is currently owned by the Claro group, the same company controlling Diario Financiero and Compañía Sudamericana de Vapores, among other companies.
The second privately-owned television channel in Chile appeared one year later, La Red. The company has been owned by Copesa (which publishes La Tercera newspaper) and by TV Azteca. It is presently managed by Alba Communications Group, a consortium with its main office in Cleveland (USA), associated to Mexican entrepreneur Ángel González.