Wednesday, May 24, 2006


The satellite TV is on the blink again. There is hardly anything that I actively watch but I do miss it when it's gone.

Chinese TV has a bewildering array of channels which all appear to show news or the same three dramas. I've verified this with a number of Chinese people who seem to agree that dramas fall into one of three categories:
  1. Far and away the most popular - The Lives and Times of Former Emperors
  2. Police/crime stories
  3. How the Japanese did terrible things to the Chinese in the past
There are some bland, old foreign films dubbed into Chinese and a number of foreign soap-opera type dramas (one of the most popular being a Korean drama documenting the Lives and Times of Former Korean Emperors) .

There seems to be nothing like the array of genres available on non-Chinese TV - for example, there's no science fiction, no medical dramas, no Simpsons, etc., etc.

Like most foreigners who want to watch non-Chinese TV the choices are fairly limited. Whilst DVDs can get you so far, there are some things that only TV can give you. News for instance. Trashy TV fit to unwind to for another.

Allegedly you are allowed, as a foreigner, to legitimately have a satellite dish to receive the broadcasting from your own country but for most people this would mean getting a dish that is wider than your apartment is tall, and it would be so heavy that it would rip your apartment wall out if a light breeze were to strike up. So, dodgy Filipino Satellite TV it is.

Most of the time it's American fayre with access to some British shows (including 30 minutes of Sky news at 6:30am). The ads and links are Filipino though and it confuses me as to whether Filipinos speak English or Tagalog or Engalog. The two seem to be completely interchangeable. This is from 2 minutes of TV last week:

Need Fast Relief From Body Pain? Wicky wicky wicky wicky. Only P7.95 per capsule
Wicky wicky KFC Bargain Bucket wicky
All day free texting for 5 wicky wicky and only wicky
Wicky wicky American Idol Season 5
The worldwide phenomenon is finally here wicky! Wicky wicky wicky wicky...

There about 60 channels of which a quarter are international TV - with news, sport and movies - the remainder are a mix of Filipino, other foreign (French, German, Japanese, Korean) channels. As I see the UK is about to start broadcasting regular programming as HDTV I struggle to understand how people can bear to watch the Filipino movies - they're invariably copies you would imagine that people would have thrown away - dark, scratched films with fuzzy pictures and booming sound. I've seen many a black-and-white western film from the 50s in vastly better quality - regardless of the content, I just couldn't enjoy watching such poor quality films.

Hopefully my dodgy card-replacement salesman will be round today and I'll be back in business - sadly I'm only left with the four religious channels when the card expires so I've been watching the first series of Deadwood on DVD.


JP said...

Ha ha, it is so true...but not just on the telly.

I noticed this alot during my visits to the Philippines; I guess they've been occupied so many times they don't know which way is up anymore.

Perhaps it's more likely that they use the best words from each language; there are certainly a fair number of Tagalog words that seem to come from English or Spanish.

Either way, it's alot like watching 'The Fast Show'.


HistoryElephant said...

wicky wicky wicky? I think you may have been watching 'Buck Rogers in the 25th Century'

a. said...

You're just missing the Johnny Vaughn now, aren't you. Come on be honest.