In the early evening of Sept. 30, TV viewers in Costa Rica surfing through the channels came upon a strange announcement that local cable providers would be terminating the signal of U.S.-based network NBC the next day. The announcement took viewers by surprise, yet no explanation was given for the countrywide move.
As it turns out, the NBC signal being broadcast here was pirated, according to a statement from NBC Universal, obtained at the request of The Tico Times.
That signal, picked up by several local TV providers, originates in Miami and had been on Tico airwaves for years without authorization, NBC said.
“NBCUniversal is committed to providing entertainment content throughout Latin America, and we currently have agreements with most major cable and satellite providers in Latin America,” the statement said. “However, we cannot allow unauthorized transmissions of our material. As a result we have asked cable and satellite operators in the region to stop re-transmitting NBC broadcast programming that has not been authorized.”
Though legally authorized NBC stations like Telemundo and Universal have continued broadcasts, regular U.S. programming is no longer available in Costa Rica.
According to CableTica spokeswoman Andrea Amen, the unauthorized signal transmitted by her company and others in Costa Rica came from a Canadian company. However, she would not say which one.
“We had a contract with the company and we paid a monthly fee for the channel,” Amen told The Tico Times. “It appears now that that company did not secure the rights with NBC as we had thought.”
Both Amen and Carolina Sanchéz, Claro’s spokeswoman, said their companies thought the broadcast was legal. The Tico Times attempted to contact representatives of Tigo, CableVisión and Telecable, but no one was available for comment.