Cable television might not be nearly as popular or essential as it was 10 years ago - but, it's still a big business in Belize, where at least a third of Belizean households - not to mention resorts and hotels - are still plugged in, accessing both conventional cable service or high speed internet.

But, in the past few years, viewers have been unplugging en masse due to the rise of Netflix, streaming video on the web, fire sticks with pirated programming, and increased monthly rates by cable operators.

So, many operators have been working at a loss or on very thin margins, with a shrinking subscriber base. That's left many eager to get out of a shrinking industry increasingly controlled by mega operators who enjoy vast economies of scale.

And that's why in the past two months there have been some major ownership changes - which have transformed the landscape of the industry. And, tonight, there's a virtual national monopoly over the cable television that feeds into your house.

This is after the CTI group - Central Television and Internet acquired CBC - Channel Broadcasting Cable in November - its main competitor in Belize City and along the Western corridor.

After absorbing the only medium sized competitor in the industry, that gave Central Cable an unchallenged footprint everywhere from Belize City to Saint Margaret's village on the Hummingbird - with dominant market share also in western Belize.

That put CTI in line with Centaur Cable - which is owned by the Prime Minister, John Briceno's family. That Orange Walk based company has long controlled all cable television distribution from the Haulover Bridge to the Corozal Free Zone. And they consolidated their hold on that geographic area by recently acquiring the last holdout in Corozal, Baymen Cable.

Now, reports say, these two powerhouses have come together to purchase the country's only other major cable enterprise in a multimillion dollar acquisition. That's Southern Cable Network and owner Darren Duncker reportedly sold to a consortium of those two major companies in December. Southern's footprint is from Dangriga to Punta Gorda, with distribution into every major village in between. Notice of a change in the board of Directors was sent to the Broadcasting Authority at the end of December.

This now makes it so that two major companies now pretty much control cable television from north to south, east to west, with a few notable exceptions. Those would be Belize Coral Cable Vision in San Pedro and Alternative Networks Limited in Cayo.

This consortium also now operates a consolidated and critical national communications infrastructure - capable of sending both broadband internet and cable television. Experts say This latter feature is on a level that could someday rival BTL in terms of reach and expanse. We note that Southern Cable also owns one of only three carrier licenses in the country - BTL and Speednet own the others.

Channel 7