By Aaron Humes: Some may have already heard of, or even acquired, what is known as ‘Switch TV’ – a package of cable and local channels for a reasonably low monthly price, much less than regular cable or trying to acquire international television on an Amazon Firestick for example.
These are examples of what is known as Internet Protocol Television (IPTV) in which signals are broadcast directly to viewers rather than through cable or satellite. Major television companies in the United States elsewhere are offering what they call over-the-top (OTT) services with favourite movies, television programs, and so on in one package that bundles cable television, streaming services, mobile, and fixed line phone services.
The aforementioned Switch TV is operated by Alternative Networks – Cayo Television Network, which this week was acquired by Belize Telemedia Limited (BTL). According to Channel 7 News, owner Stacey Burns said that BTL shared the same vision that her company has always had, wanting the entire public to enjoy IPTV at home, and OTT on their phones.
It’s a big move in the race to control this emerging market, with BTL holding off cable giants Centaur Television in the North and Central TV and Internet, which recently acquired its long-time nemesis Channel Broadcasting Cable (CBC), in the center and west.
But it was also news to Prime Minister John Briceno, whose family controls Centaur and whose Government remains a majority shareholder in BTL, despite it being, as he reminded, “a private company.”
He had no further comment except to say that the Government cannot dictate what BTL does. There has been conflict over some Government departments switching to rival SMART, also owned by the Prime Minister’s family in majority.