Everyone thought that the rise in popularity of the internet would kill the appeal of watching TV shows. But actually, all it’s done is give us more ways than ever to watch the shows we love! Nice one internet!
How you handle the equipment side of your TV-watching depends on a couple of things. If you’re not in Buenos Aires for long or if you don’t want to spend much money, then you’re better off using whatever TV there is in your furnished apartment, watching shows on your laptop (more on this below), or possibly buying an old CRT TV on MercardoLibre.
If you’re going to be here for a long time or indefinitely, you have money to spend, and you like your TVs BIG, then you’re going to want something like a flat-panel LED HDTV.
It would be simply ridiculous to buy a big, expensive TV in Argentina, as electronics cost at least double or even three times as much here as in the US. Indeed the price differences are so great that you could fly to Miami, buy a TV there, and bring it back for less than the price of buying it here. It looks like you’re taking a trip!
Buying a big TV in the US and bringing it with you to Argentina is perfectly possible. Before you buy one, check your airline’s baggage allowance and compare it with the dimensions (the weight is less likely to be a problem) of your prospective purchase. Remember that the final boxed and padded package will be at least 3-4 inches larger in each dimension.
Speaking of which, once you’ve bought your TV you should assess whether the packaging it comes in is robust and padded enough to survive an international plane journey and being thrown around by baggage handlers. If in any doubt, re-package it with a sturdier box and copious quantities of bubble wrap and Styrofoam. After that it’s just a matter of checking it in and hoping for the best.
Finally, note that if you’re a resident then you’ll have to pay customs duty on your new TV when you land at Ezeiza. It’s currently 50% of the item’s value over $300, but if you’re traveling with someone else then it’s only 50% of the item’s value over $600 (you add your limits together).
If you’re living here on a tourist visa then you probably won’t have to pay the customs duty, but then again it will seem a little strange that you need a huge TV for a three-month stay, so awkward questions might be asked.
NOTE: DirecTV and Cablevision Digital (see below) are NTSC and so they work with TVs from the US. You’ll also need a power converter from 220V to 110V, but you can easily get one here.
There are five national free-to-air TV stations in Argentina. They are América, Canal 7 (aka TV Pública), Canal 9, Telefe, and El Trece (aka Canal 13). Here’s a little more detail on what they offer:
América. The lowly América is the 4th most popular TV station and to be frank it’s not hard to see why. It brings you talk and gossip shows, news and some comedy programs during popular timeslots, otherwise it’s infomercials and televangelists. The most popular show is called Intrusos en el Espectáculo. This a gossip show is the most popular of its kind in Argentina, so if you want to know who’s doing what to whom you should tune in.
Canal 7. Also known as TV Pública, this station specializes in cultural programming and documentaries and (unsurprisingly) has the lowest ratings of the five channels. It’s good if you want to see coverage of news events and find out what the government is doing (always good for a laugh).
Canal 9. Canal 9 is based in Buenos Aires. It’s a general entertainment station with news, soap operas, talk shows, and movies. There’s not really a lot more to say about it. Moving right along!
Telefe. Telefe (short for Televisión Federal S.A.) is number ONE in the ratings, and has been since 1990. As you would expect from the top-rating station, it offers a diverse program of shows. It has The Simpsons (dubbed, of course) and soaps from Brazil, Mexico and Colombia. It’s top-rated shows are the game show Justo a Tiempo; Caiga Quien Caiga (aka CQC, a humorous and satirical news roundup show); the singing talent show Operacion Triunfo; and teen soap Casi Ángeles. Telefe’s biggest star is the Botox-faced and totally scary Susana Giménez. She usually hosts Oprah-style chat shows.
El Trece. Also known as Canal 13, El Trece is Telefe’s major competitor, and in fact it regularly beats Telefe during prime-time (Telefe always wins the afternoon slot). El Trece has the most-watched nightly news program in the country, Telenoche. It has some of the biggest celebrities in Argentine TV in its stable, and one of the biggest shows: Showmatch, an absolutely awful Dancing with the Stars-style show featuring monotonously pornographic choreography. Watch it if you dare.
For program schedules (free-to-air and cable alike), point your browser to:
www.lanacion.com.ar/espectaculos/cartelera-tv-cable/index.asp if you just want a listing, and
www.lanacion.com.ar/espectaculos/cartelera-tv-cable/TeveBuscador.asp if you want to search for a particular show.
Note that you may not be able to get free-to-air channels with a TV that you brought in from the US, as most US TVs are NTSC receivers and Argentine free-to-air channels are broadcast using a PAL-N signal. However, you can get TVs that are compatible with both systems (most HDTVs can handle both). Also, DirecTV (see below) is broadcast in NTSC.
(This guide continues in Part Two – check it out!)