In the context of a media system characterised by profound changes, the Honduran television sector has been able to strengthen its leadership, mainly from a business perspective. It controls more than 50 percent of the advertising market. Ads provide the main source of revenue for television service providers. In 2017 advertising investment in television reached US$298.4m with a growth of US$2.5m.
While the written press has managed to configure a unique thinking matrix in Honduras and radio has been the most popular media, according to Félix Molina (2014): "TV is today the dominant medium in the Honduran media system and in its expansion they mark two clear stages that still coexist: analogue and digital." In fact, even this sector has registered the impact of ongoing digitalisation trends, as there is an ongoing decrease in the volume of consumers, due to the preference of certain sectors of the population for alternative platforms, such as young people migrating toward online audiovisual offers (eg Netflix). However, even if it’s gaining popularity among the youngest, online television is still too small to challenge the dominant position in the market of more traditional television services, so both will probably coexist during the transition to digital television in the ISDB format.
Honduras has 19 digital terrestrial television (TDT) channels, out of a total of 431 open TV channels. The first stage of the analog phasing out ended in December 2018, while the second and final stage will conclude in 2019. According to Conatel "the coverage of the service of open television in Honduras has been surpassed by subscription television (cable and satellite), making the latter the preferred within television signals, even if this service by subscription means is a payment modality; additionally according to the data of households with TV and pay TV subscribers in homes in Honduras, they represent 72 percent." Even if it’s gaining popularity among the youngest, online television is still too small to challenge the dominant position in the market of more traditional television services, so both will probably coexist during the transition to digital television in the ISDB format.
The Honduran TDT channels are: Enlace, Maya TV (two frequencies), Choluteca TV,Canal 6, Alfa & Omega Visión, THN, CNTV 20, Campus TV, Metro TV, TV Azteca, RTV, Comerce, Visión TV, UTV, TEN, Activa TV and Metropolis TV. The analog shutdown in Honduras is coordinated by Conatel. To carry out this process, the country was divided into ten zones. The first stage contemplates the channels of zones one, two and nine, and the second the other regions. Honduras selected the ISDB-T standard for DTT. In terms of content, viewers can choose from over 38 stations from 19 digital channels, three open community television channels, 105 audiovisual TV systems and 100 local channels installed in each of the municipalities or departments. Yet it remains unclear if this supposed diversity of TV channels actually makes the Honduran television system sufficiently plural that audiences can choose what to watch based on interests and preferences, or whether the programming across channels is so uniform that it creates a virtual echo chamber.
Looking at how the TV landscape has adapted to the current digitalisation trend, three different approaches can be observed: The first one is to invest into new technologies to increase the technical quality of the programmes so to appease a more demanding audience, which has been adopted especially by larger groups like Televicentro; the second one is to migrate toward more tabloid-style and sensationalistic content to attract a more popular audience and raise ratings, such as in the case of HCH; the third trend is the birth of even more channels like SI TV, Waldivision, UNETV, AZTECA TV, that fight for a piece of the advertising cake and be in the Honduran social imaginary to influence it, facing an audience vulnerable to persuasion.
In such a competing environment and given their lack of technology and infrastructure, it is hard for the community TV stations to compete for ratings, revenues and innovation, even though they have been noticed for producing more insightful and informative content. It is important to note that the owners of the three communitarian television frequencies are organisations of the indigenous movement: Afro-descendants (Atlantic zone of the country), Maya Chorti (western zone) and Miskitos (eastern zone), where community TV stations are aiming at starting operations using the channels 24, 25 and 42 in their regions.
Finally, in 2017, the television audience in Honduras reached unprecedented numbers in the new digital age. According to Diario el Heraldo "the legal connection reaches users by 60.5 percent by cable of which 31.6 percent is by analog technology, 28.9 percent by digital technology, and 38.8 percent for DTH, 3.7 percent for ITPV and 0.09 percent for MMDS. However, when analysing the 2014 screen quota, we find that the three dominant groups remain: Televicentro with 49.5 percent, Grupo R MEDIA with 14.9 percent and Grupo VTV with 9.3 percent. The situation changed in 2015, with the entry into the market of the Grupo Hable como Habla (Speak as you Speak - HCH) that moved Televicentro to the second place, although Televicentro is still the largest group.