Television: Cable and Satellite TV in Panama

Getting to grips with TV standards, how to subscribe to cable and what's available to the TV viewer in Panama...

The television transmission system used in Panama is NSTC, and most TV and video appliances can be configured to this format. Countries with PAL systems normally (with a few rare exceptions) have 220V voltage and 50 Hz frequency, while countries using NTSC normally have 110/220V voltage and 60Hz.

In order for foreign television sets to work in Panama, they should be compatible with this standard. There are three main television/video standards in use throughout the world.

  • NTSC: used in the USA, Canada, Japan and some other countries
  • PAL: used in most of Western Europe, Australasia and South Africa
  • SECAM: used in France, parts of the Middle East and Eastern Europe

Terrestrial and Digital TV

The Autoridad Nacional de los Servicios Públicos (ASEP), Panama’s national public service authority, is in the process of switching over all television signals from analog to digital (DVB-T). The transition to digital terrestrial TV broadcasting began in September 2011 and is expected to continue until 2017.

The main public terrestrial channels in Panama, which have national coverage and are distributed free of charge are:

The majority of the content on these channels is in Spanish.

Note: A license is not required for public television.

Satellite and Cable TV

The main cable television providers in Panama are CableOnda and Cable & Wireless Panamá. The programs can be set to their original language for some channels.

Both providers have a number of channels in English, including news and sports channels. Each provider offers a variety of packages which can include a basic selection or "à la carte" channels.

Claro is a local satellite provider providing a service without a minimum term contract. Channels available include children's channels such as Disney, CN, Discovery Kids and Nick; sports channels for all leagues - NFL, MLB, NBA, Soccer (Premier League, Champions League, Italian League, Copa Libertadores). A number of packages are available and extra channels can be included at an additional cost. Coverage is provided throughout Panama.

Other popular satellite providers include Sky TV and DirecTV, which offer numerous packages with premium and sports channels and à la carte channel options.

In order to subscribe to cable TV or a local satellite provider, residents generally need to provide their residence card (cedula) and proof of address.