Colombia’s free-to-air networks Caracol Televisión and RCN Televisión have some new competition with the launch of Canal 1, a channel that targets families with more than 80 percent of its fare offered live.

The channel, which went live August 14, runs on RTVC public network and is operated by Plural Comunicaciones, which got the green light on May 1 from Colombia’s Autoridad Nacional de Televisión (ANTV).

The company consists of four partners: RTI, Colombia’s television long-time broadcaster; prestigious news producing companies CM& and NTC; and Hemisphere Media Group, an American entertainment media company that serves the Hispanic community in the U.S., Puerto Rico and throughout Latin America.

Network President Felipe Boshell says Canal 1 provides the Colombian audience with an alternative to entertainment and news programming.

“We are a new offer; a new company with fresh content and a comprehensive strategy we are developing with our partners and all Colombians,” he says. “We intend to change the television landscape in a country of 50 million people that [before] today had only two channels,” he says.

Programs will range from magazine-style content, newscasts, soap operas, series, movies, reality shows and contests. Primetime programs will be produced predominantly in-house.

“In this strategy of getting closer to the people and delivering different and varied programming that covers the entire Colombian spectrum, it is very important to have original productions in all time slots to reach everyone’s hearts,” says Boshell.

He touted Canal 1’s schedule as different, fresh, inclusive, independent and more in tune with Colombians.

“We want the audience to join us. With more options, we feel more viewers will tune in to watch TV in Colombia,” he says.

Getting Closer through Programming

For example, the series Guerreros (Warriors) is a competition reality show based on the successful format Esto es Guerra (This is War). Hosted by Cristina Hurtado and Josse Narváez, it follows 12 “warrior” contestants who are brought together to find out if it’s true that “all’s fair in love and war.”

Directed by Argentine producer Anibal Fernández, the show is shot at the network’s studios in Bogotá with a team of more than 100 including producers, directors and technicians.

Primetime series include the globally popular Turkish production Cesur ve Güzel (Brave and Beautiful), and Infieles (The Unfaithful), Canal 1’s first original series—a romantic comedy starring Colombian TV celebrities, with each episode filmed in a different location.

Live content includes Acá entre nos (Just between us), which features Carolina Soto, Carlos Marín, Leo Morán and Carmen Larrazábal.

Other internationally successful shows on the network include Turkish soap opera Tormenta de Pasiones (As Time Goes By), based on a true story about the captain of a ship in the 1960s who has an affair that leads to devastating consequences for his family. Other programs include Flor Salvaje (Wild Flower) starring Mónica Spear; Decisiones Colombia (Colombia Decisions); and Caso Cerrado (Case Closed) with Telemundo’s Judge Ana María Polo.

The channel also will air Hollywood blockbusters and other films on the weekends.

When it comes to keeping Colombians informed, Canal 1 works with two independent networks: CM& and Noticias Uno, which broadcast more than 40 hours of news per week. It is the only channel to air news at 5:30 a.m. via Primera Emisión (First Broadcast), with Iván Lalinde. And on Saturdays at 9:30 p.m. Canal 1 runs Crónicas de Sábado (Saturday Chronicles), hosted by Mabel Lara and Isaac Nessim, to provide viewers with an alternative program for investigative journalism.

Rounding out the schedule are other shows with recognized hosts and celebrities such as Lucho Garzón, Silvia Corzo, Adrián Magnoli, Gina Acuña, Yalena Jácome, María Fernanda Navia, Ana Aponte and the duo Mabel Lara and Cristina Hurtado, who hail from Noticias Caracol and Noticias RCN.

Boshell says he appreciates “the support we are receiving from Colombians and from the talent that wants to join us, both in front of and behind camera, in this great challenge and undertaking.”

Everyone’s Channel

The network’s president also highlights the vast experience of the four partners behind the brand’s launch.

“We thought about how to reach the heart of all Colombians with information that demonstrates sound judgment and truthfulness, and backed by the over 60-year experience of these companies,” he says. “We want all Colombians to feel that [the brand] belongs to them,” Boshell says.

“That’s why our whole campaign is focused on representing what we are: influential, straightforward, independent, in tune with Colombians, and a channel that offers sound judgment that informs and entertains.”

With this in mind, before the launch Canal 1 took to the streets to interview people about what they wanted to see in the new channel, and encouraged them to share their thoughts through the hashtag #El1DeTodos.

Some serve as spokespeople, such as Ana Aponte, a well-known Colombian skydiver who will be part of the sports programming and who wants “a channel that will make us all fly.”

Many of the ideas were circulated among different social media accounts, and the same strategy was used to define the look of the channel by asking for user input on color, or inviting them to submit their own designs via the same #El1DeTodos hashtag.

It resulted in a lot of original ideas that led to the channel’s logo.

Canal 1 also tied its launch campaign to Colombia’s government-led brand initiative, and asked users to flood social networks with videos of them singing the national anthem on July 20, to mark 207 years of independence. Many celebrities participated and promoted the initiative with hashtags #El1DeTodos and #QueColombiaSeSienta.

Canal 1 also used its talent as a hook in some promos that introduced the network as a meeting place for all Colombians. For example, Mabel Lara defines Canal 1 as “a place for you and us” and Carolina Soto describes it as “a space without borders.”

Boshell says Canal 1 is incorporating all its resources to produce a strong digital offering to ensure Colombians can watch the channel on multiple platforms.

“We want to be the alternative where viewers can see things they’ve never seen in Colombia, and see them in a different way,” he says.

Version español: Canal 1 de Colombia busca conectar al país

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