Friday, July 24, 2009

Television

There are a few cable companies here but in Manila, the main players are Destiny & Sky Cable. Once we moved to our current home, I signed up for Sky Cable. What appealed to me was the digital cable with box which meant that instead of having to channel surf or watch a VERY slow TV guide channel, at the bottom of the screen, each show would say the title. In addition, I could scroll through all the channels and see what was on all day (somewhat similar to what I used to have in SF).

When we first moved I signed up for every channel they had (with the exception of some foreign language packages) which included three HBO channels. Basic cable here has a single HBO channel but it was always edited (namely for sex) which I had assumed was because it was part of basic cable and not a premium channel. I was wrong. When I signed up for the additional three channels of HBO, I realized they were ALL edited. I can only assume that we get one generic Asia feed which likely includes countries with censorship (i.e., Singapore) but I am not sure. I was watching the movie Traffic once on local network TV here and when a gun was held to Michael Douglas, the gun was blurred out, so who knows. I ended up canceling the HBO package and if there is a movie or HBO series I want to see, I just download it or buy the DVD. I could not take the huge chunks of movies being edited. In addition, most of the movies they showed were repeated a thousand times in the course of a month and were mostly movies I had no interest in seeing (movies along the lines of Problem Child 2, Look Who's Talking 2).

There are some fantastic channels here, namely National Geographic Adventure which is in addition to the regular National Geographic. If I could only watch one channel, this would likely be it. I am in love with "Don't Tell My Mother" (random French guy who visits random countries, i.e., North Korea), "Bondi Rescue" (follows lifeguards on Bondi Beach--way more interesting than it sounds), and "Banged Up Abroad" (a series all about people who were locked up abroad--namely for drug smuggling although some have been people who were kidnapped by extremist groups). I have no idea if these shows are available in the US but I am loving them.

Since my Tagalog still sucks, I do not watch a lot of local television. Once I get more fluent, I want to be able to watch (and understand) Imbestigador and XXX which are both expose shows (similar I guess to 20/20 or Dateline). I never understand what is going on so I am left staring at the TV wondering what is going on. Same with TV Patrol which is an evening news show. There is a local news channel in English, ANC but it never seems as interesting as TV Patrol. There is a local version of Project Runway which I got a kick out of last year and plan to watch the second season once it starts.

I still wish there was a system here that had Television on Demand like I had in SF. Since I usually watch television before going to bed, I usually am watching really weird shows at midnight. I loved being able to watch primetime shows in the middle of the night. A friend of mine in the US recommended getting a DVR but honestly I am not sure if there are enough shows I like to necessitate that. I guess a lot of television here for me consists of shows that are interesting enough but I would likely watch something given the oppourtunity.

Most recently our cable company started offering a "select" service which means that once you book a basic package, you can add on the additional channels you want which is what we did. Most of the channels were P20 a month (~$.50) although even at that price, I am not sure about Fox News. There is Int'l CNN, Int'l BBC, ANC, GMA (local), CNN Headline, and ANC plays Al Jazeera in the afternoon for an hour. I kept Fox News because it is mostly US domestic news, but it is way too slanted (in the wrong direction) for me. What I wouldn't give for some MSNBC.


I shouldn't be so hard on the HBO--in hindsight I did watch War Games which I love, never would have thought to watch again, so I guess it did have some purpose.

15 comments:

Mel said...

I was very happy when sky cable recently added The History and The Biography Channel as well as the Science Fiction Channel. I also watch fox some times for comic relief. Sky cable has said they will soon be adding to their services the option of a Digital Video Recorder DVR-this would be great. I wish we could get more American football on here. Have you ever looked into services that will for fee apx 100.00 usa bring you full USA cable-just like you were in American city?

jonnifer said...

Blurring out the gun kind of misses the point, doesn't it? It's the same when fuck is written in a magazine but it's f---. Oh, ok, I have no idea what you're saying. I saw Bruno the other day with Philippe and we were pondering if some parts might have been cut out of the US version to avoid an NC-17 rating. Philippe was like, "Well, they'll blur out the boobs..." and I was like, "Honey, they don't blur things out in the theater." Ha!

And War Games is THE BEST! It is actually profound. I'm glad you were touched by its message.

Andrew's Daddies said...

awesome and informative.
Does sky cable also offer cable for internet???.
Also, is it possible to get u.s. programming like Desperate Housewives and Amazing Race..stuff like that?

Geotacs said...

i doubt the censorship comes from Singapore...

there's no Sky Cable and i doubt the feed comes form here...

i have cable here in Singapore and unless it's clear cut frontal nudity, they don't censor sex scenes... Singapore is a secular country...

it could well be the Philippines government censoring since it's a Catholic country...

cheers!

poeta fit, non nascitur said...

I'm born and bred in the Philippines and I find your blog immensely entertaining. It's interesting to read about my country from a foreigner's perspective.

Landed on your blog by sheer accident. I think I was googling meeting rooms in makati and I somehow got directed here.

Keep it up and I think I will continue to drop by every so often. :D

kikas_head said...

Mel- I have pondered it as there is one that is about $60 a month, however the cable is getting better and better here. I would LOVE if they add a DVR although I did not avail of their HD service. It was P500 a month or so for TWO channels. I have lived my whole life without HD and I will continue to do so.

Andrew's Daddies - YES! We get the Amazing Race the following day (they may have a same day simulcast even). I am pretty sure we get Desperate Housewives fairly quickly but I am not sure how quick. Gossip Girl and Glee are two shows we also get within days of the US broadcast.

Geotacs - Oh man! I had presumed Singapore because that is where the HBO offices are located! It would be awesome if they would give us the same feed as you at least for the premium ones. Anyone who is paying extra for a movie channel knows they are unedited and can keep their kids away from it if needed.

Anonymous said...

I just found your blog and I must say it is very helpful! We will be relocating to Manila (from Boston) in a couple of months and have so many questions (availability of groceries, cable companies, etc). I will be following your blog going forward. Thanks much!

Matt said...

Unless i really needed "live" shows I would look to get a small media centre. Ive just got a 2 x 1tb drives and a media unit that plugs into the TV which I filled with shows for my wife (I dont watch TV). As I find the daily shows which are new but exactly the same as the shows like yesterday e.g. wowowee painful to watch unless its for a couple of hours a month. So worth looking into as the media centres fit into luggage easily and are less than half a kilo.

my blog :- http://www.tropicalpenpals.com

Anonymous said...

I also live in the Philippines, but in Leyte. I have been very unhappy with the censored TV here. They have a lot bigger problems here in the Philippines, other than a couple of scenes with nudity or profanity. I am trying to figure out if the SAT services are also censored, I can only assume the answer is yes, very pathetic. I have tried to find the PI equivalent of the FCC online, with no luck. I would contact them, not that it would make a difference anyway.......Anthony

Anonymous said...

We get the same service here as in manila and its not even the profanity that gets cut the most - its the word "god". Not only as the lowgrade explicative by adding the word damnit, but simply that word itself is cut from tons of movies.

I watched the movie Formula 51 (or 1st State in Europe)and the singlemost climatic scene of the move, the greatest quote of the movie, the only reason the rest made any sense--- was cut out. The entire 30 second section cut out because Samuel L Jackson said 'godamn'.

They also have the retarded censors that try on-the-fly censors of manually deleting the entire soundtrack when the word God comes up. The tree monkeys even once deleted the word god from a hour of religious items for sale on infomercial.

Cinemax and HBO here have nothing in common with the concept of "movie channels". They play crappy old shows. Hollywood (Taiwanese) and MM1/2/etc are far better. I compared the official HBO/Cinemax Asia schedule with local playings and yup, a lot of local bull was getting substituted to make it low quality like Pinoy Prime.

Anonymous said...

Hey, why don't you get a US I.P. address that will allow you to watch American channels online or even get on sites like Hulu.com or Pandora and just hook up a computer to the TV..

kikas_head said...

I use an anonymizer for some things (i.e., hulu) but our internet is still a little slow for streaming video (we just have a standard 768 package). I heard about satellite service that is available here (http://heart-2-heart-online.com/2009/09/07/american-tv-2-go-digital-television-unleashed/) but I don't think we watch enough television to warrant it. Still, nice to know it is there.

I am not too tech savvy, my brother-in-law just showed my how to put downloaded shows on a USB and play them on the TV. For some reason, it never occurred to me to do it!

Anonymous said...

Does Sirius sat radio work over there? I'm thinking if I fly back there sometime in the future, I might put one in my car.

Anonymous said...

What is so wrong in providing the playoffs and superbowl here in the Philippines? It's not like there would be a financial loss. The players are seriously overpaid anyway.

Anonymous said...

I could not believe what crap people were wanting to view until I saw that they missed MSNBC. IQ's must be well below 70.