The Colombian television model from 1955 to the late 1990s, known as the sistema mixto ("mixed system"), relied on programadoras as the sole producers of programs that aired on the two major channels. Following the introduction of two national private television channels to the country in the late 1990s, the recession of that same time period and a resulting combination of falling ratings and declining advertising revenues, the programadoras went into a tailspin that led to many closing in bankruptcy or becoming production companies for the private networks. By 2003, only seven programadoras were left on Canal Uno, later reduced to four. In May 2017, Plural Comunicaciones, a consortium including several former programadoras, took total control of Canal Uno's operations, marking the first time since the 1950s that one entity was responsible for programming the network's entire broadcast day.
In 1955, the Colombian government created what would be the model of national television for the next four decades. For the preceding year, the lone national channel had focused exclusively on educational and cultural programs. However, a fall in the world price of coffee, the country's principal export, forced the government to cut the portion of its budget allotted to television.
Private companies bid to lease timeslots to air their shows on the Cadena Nacional (National Channel), which was the only TV network in the country. The government, in turn (from 1964, through
Every several years—often in every government—bidding cycles known as licitaciones were opened. At these times, new potential programadoras would bid, old ones would compete for new positions, and some would leave the air. At the start of the next calendar year, television schedules completely changed. These bidding cycles occurred in 1972, 1975, 1977, 1981, 1983, 1987, 1991 (see below), and 1997. (Note the varied length of the concessions: three years in the 1970s, two years in the early 1980s, four years in the mid-late 1980s, and six years after the passage of the Colombian Constitution of 1991.) There was also a small licitación in 1991 to award the former slots of
Newscasts were particularly affected by these bidding periods, being particular points of pressure from political parties. New ones would appear after licitaciones and old ones might disappear (such as
Most programadoras that disappeared prior to the programadoras crisis did so at the end of one of those calendar years (for instance,
Separate bidding cycles were held to program holidays (festivos), usually with movies and special programs. Promec and
In the 1980s,
Initially, the contract would run for six years with the government retaining the option to extend the contracts for another six. This element was dropped in a new television law late in 1996, which thus meant that a new licitación would take place in 1997 with new programming in 1998. QAP, known for its impartiality and independence, believed that this act served solely to get them (as well as several other newscasts critical of the government) off the air and withdrew from the 1997 bidding. 
There were a variety of issues that accompanied the new bidding cycle:
In March 1993, more ratings information came to Colombian screens. A court decision forced Inravisión to ban sexual and violent scenes from the franja familiar (family block). Programadoras were now required to state if the program was appropriate for minors to view. In addition, programadoras had to submit their material to Inravisión 72 hours in advance to determine its suitability.
One additional programadora would vanish in 1995-96,
In 1997, Colómbia awarded two private television licenses to Caracol and RCN, two of the largest programadoras; their channels took to the air on July 10, 1998. Some 25 programadoras still applied for spaces on the two channels in the licitación of 1997, however, including Caracol and RCN which had limited spaces on the two major channels from January–July 1998. However, Caracol and RCN enjoyed limited output; notably, Caracol was left without any timeslots on Saturdays. Other programadoras presented Caracol's marquee programs on that day, the Premier Caracol movie (
Understanding that more unity was needed within each channel against the new competition, programadoras began to find ways to cooperate. The twelve Canal A companies formed the Canal A Society, within which each of the programadoras acquired a program specialty. For instance, RTI produced novelas and large-scale game shows, while
It was known at the time that the public-commercial Inravisión channels would be affected, but nobody predicted it would be as rapid a change as it was. In the first year of the private channels, they were growing at the rate anticipated for their fifth year of broadcasting.
The timing was exceedingly poor. Along with the decreases in advertising revenue related to the Colombian recession of the late 1990s, many of the major advertisers, linked to the economic groups that controlled Caracol and RCN, pulled their advertising budgets from the mixed system. To survive financially, many companies turned to televentas, or infomercials, but those caused viewers to flee Canal Uno and Canal A, as did the increased programming flexibility enjoyed by the new private channels. The crisis was on.
By 1999, the programadoras had asked for six of the eighteen daily hours of programming to be removed and for license costs to be lowered; their collective deficits had reached 100 billion Colombian pesos (about US$53 million) and by 2001, their combined debts would exceed 26 billion pesos (about US$11.3 million).
The year 2000 saw several important programadoras leave the air: TeVecine, DFL Televisión, PUNCH, JES and
By March 2001, six companies had fallen under Ley 550, the bankruptcy reorganization law then in force in Colombia; this number rose to seven by July. Later in the year,
The situation continued to worsen, and one channel was affected more than the other: while early on it had a ratings advantage over its public competitor, Canal A began to experience serious issues. One week in March, Noticiero Hora Cero, the last news program on the channel, and its producer CPS went off the air for lack of money, its news director calling the action a sign of the sure death of that channel; the next, Andes Televisión and Proyectamos Televisión turned in their slots and called it quits due to the CNTV banning infomercials and depriving the companies of vital revenues. The rapidly deteriorating situation prompted the El Tiempo newspaper to dub the channel "a dying lion", a riff on its long-standing lion-themed idents. Coestrellas's mid-2003 liquidation left just one programadora on the Canal A side standing, RTI. As part of a salvation plan (Plan de Salvamento) approved by the government on June 19, 2003, RTI was moved to Canal Uno. After several months of showing nothing but programs from
Inravisión and Audiovisuales were liquidated in 2004, partly due to the programadoras crisis but also due to out-of-date equipment and, in the case of the former, costly pension liabilities. Inravisión was replaced by RTVC (Radio Televisión Nacional de Colombia), now known as
The salvation plan of 2003 and the licitación of the same year resulted in a dramatic realignment of the survivors on Canal Uno. Of the seven remnants, six were grouped into time-sharing cooperatives:
The original length of these contracts was 10 years beginning January 1, 2004, but all except the RTI/Programar contract, which the companies opted to not renew, were extended in September 2013 by the Autoridad Nacional de Televisión (ANTV), successor of the CNTV, to an expiration date of April 30, 2017. RTVC Sistema de Medios Públicos, along with Jorge Barón/Sportsat, NTC/Coltevisión and CM&, currently program Canal Uno.
In November 2016, ANTV awarded Canal Uno's concession spaces for 10 years (starting in May 2017) to Plural Comunicaciones, a consortium of CM&, NTC, RTI and the US-based firm Hemisphere. The bidding was not without controversy. Jorge Barón Televisión had asked for a review of its 2013 request for a ten-year extension, which the ANTV denied. For its part, Programar Televisión filed a criminal complaint against