First Impression is that The Cable Onda Channel Changes Changes Suck

UPDATE: I am going to leave this as a page one post for a while to get more reactions and to get feedback from people that have C&W or other Panama Options. If you have C&W or Astrovision, did you lose your CBS, ABC and NBC networks?

Today is the day that the Cable Onda changes go into effect removing ABC and CBS network channels. My first impression is that it is not an improvement, but that I am getting less for my money. I have scanned today’s offerings of the replacements and I don’t like the change.

Not anything I can do other than register my complaint and keep my eyes open for other options. It looks like the number of English language channels and offerings may have been reduced. Of course, as I said, this is my first impression. More use of SAP (secondary audio programming) would help.

I think the real impact will come with the evening shows and weekend sports. I am pretty adaptable, but I like to see some shows at the same time that the rest of the world see them. That would include all sports (I prefer to see them in English) , Survivor (reality shows are only good if you don’t know the outcome), Oscars (it was on last night), Jeopardy – Watson match (already happened), etc.

Most weekly serials can be watched anytime, but some things just need to be watched at the intended broadcast time.

My first impression and my impression with a week’s experience will determine if I start looking for a Cable Onda replacement. It just may be enough to force me to go to the basic option and pay less. I may shift my time to other diversions and that will lower my payment to Cable Onda.

27 thoughts on “First Impression is that The Cable Onda Channel Changes Changes Suck

  1. Be sure to check out Cable Onda’s new program “The Cuba Channel” no offense to Cubans but is really bad video and Cable Onda is bring this on line to compensate for ABC and CBS…

  2. Don, We switched from Sky to Cable Onda because Sky had the “American Channel” that offered only reruns and programs that suck. Now we have the American Channel again and with no current NBC, CBS & ABC programs…….we are not happy! We get to hear about little 8 year old Mikie Winston Hicks getting frisked at the airport all over again because he was on a no fly list since he was 2 years old. (yikes).

  3. To be fair they are lucky they got away with it so long, if this wasn’t Panama, they would have been sued for millions… advertising rights and program fees were flaunted in the face of Latin networks like AXN and the like, They pay hundreds of thousands for exclusive broadcast rights in the region, due to extra competition both companies broke the law to offer English channels and to try and increase take up, scandalous really, they should never have had those channels!

  4. AXN is not on a par with the US networks. Everything is several years old. If they can offer HBO and Cinemax they should be able to offer the major networks.

  5. My wife and I are real disappointed in lost of ABC, CBS and NBC with Cable Onda. One of the programs we enjoy is “The Bachelor” and it is 2 shows from completing the series. I quickly had my son hookup a slingbox unit in his home in Oregon. The Slingbox worked well but I’m only getting 0ne half of my promised internet speed from Cable & Wireless….(spend more and get less Panama). There were a few feed delays…but were able to watch most of “The Bachelor” tonight.

  6. I am doing research on both the SLINGBOX and HAVA. However, I am not sure I have an easy way to get it hooked up in the US and need to come look at yours to fully understand it.

    I also missed the Bachelor and will miss Survivor this week. 🙁

    Since I don’t see anyone from C&W or Astrovision commenting, I assume they also lost the US Networks. However, I can’t imagine going back to Astrovision.

  7. Duped, disgrunteled, paying for services not received, no warranties for appliances, everything breaking, no replacement parts — A note to the Gov’t — start from the bottom up — not the top down. Too much confusion even with trying to get a car registration or if someone steals your wallet to get paperwork re-done. Patience is a virtue here in Panama but you got the love the people you meet. Get a handle on all in Panama, including the stuff the US is asking and pressuring Panama for. . Am I asking toooo much?

  8. We live near Panama City in Costa Del Este and also have Cable Onda. We had no idea that these channels were dropping. I got ready to watch the Bachelor with my glass of vino in hand only to stare in disbelief! I tried watching it online but ABC won’t send a feed to my computer because of the “Out of State” address. I have never heard of the HAVA or SLINGBOX but will research it right away! I can’t miss Leno’s monologue or SNL!

  9. Hello. I am a Panamanian citizen living in Panama City. I want to express my thoughts on this topic.

    I cannot begin to describe to you how upset I am at the entire cable TV industry for the removal of the US networks (ABC, NBC, CBS) from our local service. However, based on what the local companies (Cable Onda, Cable & Wireless) have announced about this, it seems that the cable channels for Latin America (Sony Entertainment Television, Warner Channel, AXN and others) have indeed the power to demand, and ultimately achieve, the removal of the US networks from the local service. The Cable Onda plan in my house included the US networks as well; on weekdays, whenever possible, I could enjoy daytime shows like “The Price Is Right” and on Tuesday nights I would watch “V”. When I learned that the US networks were being dropped, I started surfing the net to find suitable replacements for their signals; luckily, I found some websites that stream the signals of ABC, NBS and CBS. The Internet stream can be described as acceptable.

    There are a lot of issues with this decision. First, as I mentioned, there is an apparent legal right to request the removal of the signals of the US networks from the cable service; so, there is little Cable Onda or Cable & Wireless can do to bring back the US networks. Second, this decision, although apparently legal, has the effect of deprive us of the opportunity to watch shows aired in the US networks that are not included in the “exclusive rights” now in possession of the cable channels for Latin America; in my opinion, this is a situation in which someone does exercise a right, but simultaneously affects the rights of other people. Third, it sets a bad precedent, as this same excuse can be used to remove from the air the signal of another TV station from anywhere in the world, on the grounds that it is airing just one show for which the rights are owned by another TV station. Fourth, it demonstrates that the cable channels for Latin America that engaged in this concerted effort to remove the US networks have no idea about how to properly promote the programs for which they have acquired the exclusive rights; they fail to see that adding Spanish subtitles to the shows is an element of value added that they could use to advertise their airing of these programs as an alternative to watching them in the US networks, thus attracting viewers in the process (and making people watch the programs at both the US network station and at the channel for Latin America).

    Also, notice that the only excuse given for the removal of the US networks is that the cable channels for Latin America own the exclusive rights to broadcast these series; there is no mention on any financial harm caused by piracy or potential viewers choosing to watch the shows on the US networks instead. My conclusion is that the request for removal of the US networks is inspired in a strict interpretation of their exclusive rights that can be summarized as this: “we have the exclusive rights to air these shows in Latin America; therefore, we will not allow any broadcast of these shows in the region by anyone else, even if the cost of enforcing our right is greater than any benefit we may obtain from this action.” If this is the case, they could surely take action against websites that allow the signal to be received in the region, or local stores that sell DVD sets of TV series seasons not yet aired in Latin America but available on DVD before they are broadcast in the region (some of these DVD sets bear a legend indicating that their sale is prohibited outside the United States or Canada; I just laugh when I read it).

    There’s one more thing. I’ve been doing some research on Google about this, and the web pages that I’ve found about the removal of the US networks from the cable services in Latin America make reference to the announcements by Cable Onda and Cable & Wireless Panama. It is very strange that the cable companies of other countries in the region apparently have not posted any announcements on this in their websites.

    I hereby express my solidarity to all of you. I’m going to do some more research on this to determine if indeed the cable companies in Latin America, and not just in Panama, are removing the US networks from their services; this will help me decide what to do, whether to organize a boycott or demand an explanation from Cable Onda. I’ll keep all of you posted. My email address is, in case you want to get in touch with me.

    Sorry for the long post,


  10. Hi Nelson. Thank you for taking the time to leave such a well written and thought out comment. I appreciate it. I also appreciate that it is coming from a Panamanian and to know that we spoiled gringos are not the only ones that are having a problem with this new change. You make a good point about question if this is universal in Latin America or specific to Panama.

    I also miss seeing “V”.

    Thanks again for taking the time to comment.

    I will add that this practice is used on some music sites that are in the US, such as Pandora and Slacker to name a couple. If you go to and your ip is not in the US, you will not be able to receive it.

  11. Because I consider it of interest for the expat community, below you will find my emails to Cable Onda customer service and their answer, regarding the elimination of CBS, ABC and NBC from the cable TV menu. The text is in Spanish but here is an English summary:
    – Local cable TV companies have access to final customer, not the regional TV distributors, this should give local companies some influence on what gets distributed.
    – There is a significant % of expats in the customer base of cable TV and they all want to see channels from their country of origin and there are many Latinos who also like to watch the USA networks.
    – The expat population generally have higher purchasing power than the average of the national population and therefore are of interest to local and foreign advertisers.
    – There are options to see the USA channels (satellite, internet) and people will use them if local cable TV companies are not an option.
    – Viewers in Canada are seeing USA networks and other channels (PBS, HGTV) without any objection from regional TV distributors, so why is it that viewers in Latin America cannot enjoy the same variety?
    – Local cable TV companies are going to lose many customers and once lost they will be impossible to recuperate.
    – Viewers see cable TV like a Mall where there are a few anchor stores which attract shoppers, in cable TV there are a few anchor channels which are frequently viewed, CBS ABC NBC were anchor channels and their elimination will eliminate many subscribers.
    – Movies are not anchor channels since there is a real, cheaper and fresher market for movies in the streets and in the internet.

    If you would like to give Cable Onda a piece of your mind, like I did, you may write to they understand English very well.

    Regards Juan Linares

    From: Juan S. Linares O. []
    Sent: Friday, March 04, 2011 10:17
    To: ‘’
    Subject: Eliminacion de canales de USA en Cable Onda

    Estimado Sr. Salas muy admirable su intento de respuesta, sin embargo como lo esperaba no tienen nada que ofrecer, la única respuesta útil seria reponer los 3 canales americanos y agregar otros muy atractivos como PBS o HGTV, los cuales pueden ser vistos en servicios satelitales en Panama. Referente a que no tienen control les recuerdo que ustedes son los que llegan al cliente final no así los distribuidores de TV para Latinoamérica eso debería darles alguna influencia sobre lo que se distribuye. También deben explicarle a los idiotas que distribuyen TV para Latinoamérica que existe entre los clientes de cable TV en Latinoamérica un % significativo de expatriados, especialmente en Panama, que tienen poder adquisitivo por encima del promedio nacional y que desean ver los canales de su país de origen, además que muchos latinos nos encantan los canales americanos, y pueden estar seguros que esos canales los vamos a ver y no será por las empresas de cable TV nacionales porque no los ofrecen.

    Yo he tenido la oportunidad de vivir en Canada y allí a las empresas de Cable TV jamás se les ocurriría eliminar las señales de la TV de USA, de hecho verifique con mi amigo que vive en Toronto y hasta el día de hoy sigue viendo CBS, NBC y ABC además de PBS y otras estaciones de USA. Porque a los distribuidores de TV para Canadá no se les ocurre eliminar las estaciones de USA y para Latinoamérica si? Se lo diré: porque ellos piensan que somos unos indios y que veremos cualquier cosa que nos ofrezcan, a esos distribuidores de TV jamás se les ocurriría quitarle al publico Canadiense opciones televisivas.

    Debo avisarle que van a perder muchísimos clientes de su servicio de TV y una vez perdidos recuperarlos será prácticamente imposible, pregúntenle a los distribuidores de TV para Latinoamérica porque en Canadá si es posible ver los canales americanos además de los canales que ellos nos quieren obligar a ver. Avísenle a esos distribuidores de TV para Latinoamérica que al final no veremos las series que ellos quieren obligarnos a ver porque no vamos a contratar los servicios de cable TV nacionales, ya tengo 2 opciones para ver los canales americanos una satelital y otra por internet.

    Deben explicarle a los idiotas que distribuyen TV para Latinoamérica que nosotros los televidentes vemos el servicio de cable TV como un Mall de esos que hay en USA con 300 tiendas y feria de comida, en los Mall hay algunas poquísimas tiendas que son el atractivo principal, las llamadas “anchor stores” (anclas) esas son las J C Penny, Macy’s, Sears, Etc. Son pocas pero son las que atraen a los clientes quienes una vez en el Mall ven las otras pequeñas tiendas que son muchas y a veces compran algo en ellas, y así todo el mundo está contento, los clientes, las grandes tiendas, las pequeñas tiendas y los dueños del Mall. En la cable TV hay algunos poquísimos canales que nos interesan y que vemos frecuentemente, esos son las anclas, y de vez en cuando vemos los otros numerosos canales y a veces compramos algo en ellos como películas; con esta decisión de eliminar los canales de USA dejaron el Mall de cable TV sin anclas y ya la gente no va ir. Si creen que los canales de película son un ancla les recuerdo que en Latinoamérica hay un abundante mercado de películas piratas con precios muy bajos y películas más nuevas, este mercado es ilegal pero es real y si las opciones legales son mucho mas costosas (costo de subscripción + costo de película) que vamos a hacer?

    Agradezco su intento de respuesta no dedique tiempo a responderme a menos que sea una respuesta útil como la que le mencione en el primer párrafo. Más bien dedique su tiempo a preguntarle a los distribuidores de TV para Latinoamérica porque los televidentes Canadienses si pueden ver los canales americanos, me encantaría ver la respuesta de ellos y espero que no vengan con una de diferencias culturales. También puede dedicar tiempo a cuantificar la perdida de subscritores de cable TV a lo mejor eso impresiona a los distribuidores de TV para Latinoamérica. También debo avisarle que copiare esta comunicación a los grupos de expatriados en Panama donde este desagradable situación se comenta abundantemente. Atentamente Juan Linares
    From: Servicio al Cliente []
    Sent: Thursday, March 03, 2011 16:45
    To: ‘Juan Linares’
    Subject: RE: Formulario de Contactenos

    Buenas Tardes

    Respetado Sr. Juan Linares
    Suscriptor: 83628301

    Ante todo reciba un cordial saludo

    Entendemos que para usted estos canales son muy importantes sin embargo la
    razón de la salida está alejada de nuestro control y se debe a solicitud de
    proveedores de señales de televisión pagada para Latinoamérica, quienes
    poseen ahora los derechos exclusivos de las principales series de estos
    canales para nuestro país y la región.

    Otros proveedores de televisión pagada en sistema Satelital de Panama, no se
    verán afectados porque ellos no cuentan con estos canales dentro de su

    Nosotros como operador de Cable en un país de Latinoamérica, hicimos los
    esfuerzos necesarios y posibles para evitar las salidas de estos importantes
    canales de nuestra programación, sin embargo es una acción que afectara a
    todos los operadores de la región.

    Razón por la cual; hemos realizado esfuerzos para traer caneles como
    American Network (80) canal con una programación de estos canales y en
    particular los noticieros en vivo del canal CBS.

    Para nuestra programación en High Definition (HD) estamos ingresando en
    reemplazo, nuevos canales como: SONY HD (321), y A&E (322)

    Para consultas de las series favoritas en los canales con derecho a
    transmisión para Latinoamérica, le recomendamos revisar el siguiente Link.

    cualquier consulta o para mayor informacion nos puede contactar a nuestra
    linea de atencion al cliente 390-7555.

    Saludos Cordiales,

    Salvador F. Salas
    Ejecutivo de Relaciones con el Cliente
    Cable Onda
    Visite nuestra pagina web.

    —–Mensaje original—–
    De: Juan Linares []
    Enviado el: Domingo, 27 de Febrero de 2011 07:45 p.m.
    Asunto: Formulario de Contactenos

    Nombre y Apellido: Juan Linares

    Cédula: 024776187


    Teléfono: 7308285

    Provincia: Chiriqui

    Barrio: Los Molinos

    Tipo de Servicio: Producto: TV

    Información Adicional: Quisiera registrar mi disgusto por
    la eliminacion de los canales CBS, ABC y NBC del menu de Cable Onda,
    entiendo que no fue decision de ustedes pero quizas puedan enviarle esta
    protesta a quienes los obligaron, estos distribuidores de TV para latino
    america quiere obligarnos a ver determinados programas por determinados
    canales, pero lo que realmente ocurrira es que nosotros los televidentes
    buscaremos alternativas para ver lo que queremos y como queremos, aunque sea
    por otros medios como internet o por otros medios televisivos aunque sean
    ilegales ya que no dejan alternativas legales. Los canales americanos son
    insustituibles sobre todo en la version HD, el canal American Network no
    tiene el \”Look & feel\” de los canales americanos, AN da la sensacion de
    comida enlatada y recalentada, los shows estan atrasados con respecto a los
    canales americanos, no tienen publicidad de productos americanos que es muy
    util para enterarse de productos interesante
    s que
    puedo comprar en linea y recibir en Panama. El AN no ofrece todos los show
    nocturnos solo el de Letterman y a mi encanta ver que ofrecen los otros show
    como el de Leno para ver cual veo. el programa 60 minutos de CBS/HD es
    excelente ademas que los de AN estan muy atrasados y no son HD. La oferta de
    programacion cultural en el menu de Cable Onda es muy pobre, a mi encantaria
    ver la senal de las emisoras culturales PBS de USA. Los show matutinos como
    el Today show de NBC tampoco estan en AN. Ya estan apareciendo la TV para
    internet y con eso yo podre ver los canales de USA y de cualquier otro pais
    que me interese y entoces prescindire de la cable TV de Cable Onda. En la
    actualidad tengo contratatado el paquete maximo de cable onda y yo
    frecuentaba menos de 10 canales, los de peliculas, los de noticias y los 3
    americanos, y ahora me quitaron estos 3 ultimos, asi que de que me sirve
    contratar el paquete maximo? sin mas nada que agregar me despido de ustedes
    sin esperar ninguna
    respuesta ya que creo que lamentablemente no tienen nada que ofrecerme y
    buscare mis propias alternativas. Juan Linares, subscriptor 83628301

  12. …I don’t watch TV and I’m smarter than all of my friends, some of whom are highly educated. Is there a connection? Some say, ‘yes!’

    Can’t you watch most of what you would want to watch online with a good connection? There are lots of software programs that let u tune into radio & TV using an internet connection.

    Just trying to help..


  13. Maybe a little sunshine coming at 7:00 tonight 60 Mins on channel 80….so says the on cable guide on Cable Onda…lets see what we get…

  14. Hi Bob. I had written a fellow blogger in Honduras called La Gringa. Following is her reply:

    Hi Don Ray,

    We still get the US networks in La Ceiba. I think there are 3-4 providers in
    La Ceiba, two long-time local companies and one or two national companies.
    When I say national, I mean the ones who already serve the larger city
    areas. I don’t think that those provide the US networks but I could be
    wrong. The government isn’t involved except providing licenses or whatever.

    The two local providers used to charge about $60 per month for Cable TV and
    internet. After the national companies moved in, we now pay about $35.

    Many outlying areas didn’t have cable access but now do through Claro TV (a
    cell phone company). I recently saw little communities where it seemed a
    third of the population was sporting a small satellite dish. I don’t believe
    that Claro TV offers the US networks but I could be wrong about that.

    Our cable company drives us absolutely nuts. They change the ordering of the
    channels ALL the time, almost every month, so that you have to search and
    search to find out where they went. That’s true even for the local channels.
    No thought to customer service at all. Sometimes they just disappear never
    to return. Last month, they removed all the English-language movie channels,
    everything from HBO to the ones that show the older movies.

    We used to get the Atlanta networks which matched our time zone for half the
    year, then they switched to Colorado for several years. Then they switched
    to LA so our prime time was 10 pm to 1 am! Very convenient, huh? Last month,
    in the middle of the month they changed to NY so after the DST time change,
    our prime time will be 6 pm to 9 pm.

    Most guess that they steal the cable channels and/or don’t pay their bills
    and have to search out new sources. At the end of the month, EVERY month,
    the US networks, CNN, and several other English-language channels go dead
    for anywhere from a day to 4 days — it’s presumed that it takes them awhile
    to find and pirate a new signal. But please don’t quote me on this as La
    Ceiba is a small town and the owner is an important man.

    It’s a mess!


    On an unrelated note, I wrote an article a while back that I thought you
    might be interested in. I meant to send you the link but then got busy and
    forgot. It’s related to Panama and a long-time US scam artist of the 1800s.

    Hope you enjoy it.


    La Gringa
    La Ceiba, Honduras

    La Gringa’s Blogicito

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