Places to Go and Things to Do

Exploring and Living in Cuba

  • Register

A number of hotels offer satellite television from the U.S. for their guests.  They show programs such as CNN, HBO, ESPN, Cinemax and MTV. With a satellite dish you can pick programs from all over the world.

 Actually, many people can pick up television stations from Miami—weather permitting—with an ordinary antenna if they live near Havana. Cubavisión, Canal 6, Canal 2, Telerebelde and a couple educational channels are the country’s official Spanish television networks. To catch up in this programming competition, Cuban TV multiplied its number of channels and began the massive pirating of documentaries, series and films from the United States. The number of channels went from two to five and their schedules were expanded to the point that there’s now 24-hour programming.

At times stations show old American and European films, science and culture, soaps, cartoons. Generally, Cuban TV is exceedingly politicized and boring. However, since sports are very popular, a lot of games are broadcast as are Cuban sports events. If you speak Spanish you will be able view the programs they offer.  

 For some time there have been alternatives to the limited state-run television. Thousands of clandestine satellite dishes and hundreds of legal video banks supply Cubans with the latest movies, telenovelas (sopa operas) TV shows, sports events and comedy programs. These antennas transmit US programming that includes several Spanish channels, some from Miami.

Satellite dishes are smuggled into the country from. Miami, entering the country after money is paid to customs officials for looking the other way. Presently there are thousands of these dishes across the country – hidden in lofts, concealed in plastic water tanks, etc. Their presence has multiplied because many of their owners have created cable networks by linking up with the TVs of their neighbors. In this way, the signals from a satellite antenna can reach homes in a several block area around it, with the monthly cost of the service not exceeding $10 USD per month for each household.

TV banks are another alternative. Initially “banks” were places where Cubans could rent videos. First these were in the Beta-max format, later VHS, and then as DVDs. Now you can use a hard drive and have it loaded up with movies, cartoons and series. On one webpage a season of any series for only $1 USD, while another offers each episode for only eight cents and HD films for the equivalent of only forty cents. Each of these banks has hundreds of movies and episodes of series. Most of these have been downloaded from the Internet by relatives in Miami or by people in Cuba who work for businesses, hotels or universities, etc. that have broadband connections to the Internet.

Interestingly, all of this is so legal that even pirated movies are sold in doorways without anyone asking about their origins. Undoubtedly, despite the restrictions, Cubans are very up to date with regard to television.

Without ample access to the Internet, some Cubans satisfy their hunger for media through a black market of digital "paquetes," packages of content that bypass government censorship. The “paquete,” a peculiar system for the private, informal airing of audiovisual content in Cuba, El Paquete de la Semana (The Weekly Package) has become something most Cuban households can’t do without and is an alternative to television content that even today contains a “ton of ideology,”

The content ranges from pornography to soap operas, foreign news and movies. Telemundo's Spanish language Al Rojo Vivo, Univision's Primer Impacto and Customers can order a download of a terabyte of data, which can last a viewer about a week or a month. Some share memory cards, much in the same way teens in South Florida rent video games to their friends. Some use SIM cards, a portable memory chip used to hold data. Others use Flash USB drives and Zip files on CDs. A "paquete semanal" can cost between $1 and $3. Some use illegal satellite to have access to the content that can be digitized. They get Vampire Diaries, Breaking Bad and Game of Thrones. And as long as the Internet remains slow, the lucrative "paquetes" will continue to have demand.

For those in Cuba with a good Internet connection Netflix Inc., the leading Internet film and TV subscription and streaming service, will offer a broad range of great global entertainment to Cuban consumers — despite the prohibitively slow internet speeds and fact that its fee represents almost half of the average Cuban’s monthly salary. However, as Internet access improves and credit and debit cards become more widely available. People in Cuba with Internet connections and access to international payment methods will be able to subscribe to Netflix and instantly watch a curated selection of popular movies and TV shows.

Prior to the revolution of 1959 Cuba had many radio stations. Presently, Cuba’s main stations including Radio Rebelde, Radio Havaba Cuba, Radio Progreso, and Radio Taino which is the main station which broadcasts throughout the country in Spanish and English 24-hours a day on AM frequency. Radio Reloj is a 24-hour news station. English language radio stations can also be heard from the southern United States especially from Florida, Mexico, The Dominican Republic, Puerto Rico and Venezuela.

There are also provincial stations like Radio Bayamo, Radio Muasical Nacional, Radio Vistoria and Radio Ciudad.


Official Guide to
Cuban Spanish

Official Guide to Cuban Spanish

For those who want to communicate with the locals and to develop basic Spanish survival skills, purchase our one-of-a-kind eBook which includes Cuban slang in English


"I always keep this book on my tablet so that I can maneuver through Cuba’s linguistic maze."

Max Gómez, Cuba Scout, Travel Expert

Contact Us

Send an e-mail. All fields are required.

Medal Award

Not ready to relocate to Cuba yet,
then check out 
Costa Rica Latin America’s #1
retirement haven


Living and Investing in Cuba - Live in Cuba - Retire in Cuba - Retirement Tours in Cuba 

Information herein is authorized through the courtesy of Christopher Howard, author of the best selling Cuba information source, Living and Investing in the New Cuba. Please be aware that all information herein is protected by COPYRIGHT © and misuse of it will carry a penalty by law.