Telstar 4 is Down (and so is my cable)
Very amusing... earlier tody Alex snuck behind a chair, found the normally well blocked off power cord for all the audio/video stuff we have - CD player, DVD, TV and Cable box - and unplugged it. Later on we turned the television on and low and behold, nothing on TV (I mean, literally - blue screen). Of course, we blamed Alex for killing our cable.
We actually called because we were getting the menus and stuff but no channels, so because it's digital cable we figured the unplugging and plugging had fried the SIM chip or something. They told us it wasn't just us and they were working on it. Cool... Alex didn't fry the box.
Well actually, it seems to be even more complicated. I just got the news in my aggregator that it turns out the whole satellite is fried! Wow. That's huge! I'm not 100% positive that this is *our* satellite, but it has to be. Basically all our cable does is re-route satellite stations to us.
Cable in Spain is actually a relatively new thing and we're lucky to have it just because we live downtown, so a company called MadriTel services our area. If you're out in the burbs at all, you've got no choice except for Satellite TV. This is actually becoming more common, but isn't nearly as global as cable is in the U.S. . This affects Spanish society, honestly, because it means that the majority of people don't have more than the basic five over the air stations - which gives these channels tremendous sway in terms of their influence and ability to show ads. A few of the stations will show movies at night, and a normal 90 minute movie will last - no kidding - 2-3 hours because of the 15 minute commercial breaks throughout (which get longer as the night goes on). They can do that because there's no competition, really. And most of the channels on my cable box have no advertising. We get VH1, for example, and it just takes breaks where the commercials normally are during shows, and promotes other stuff on VH1. No commercials - since there's not that many subscribers to cable here, who's going to pay for them?
Anyways, it's amusing to me to see MTV Spain (which unlike VH1, is localized) try to push Brittany Spears (who?) and other American acts. Actually over the past year, it's gotten better with more Spanish speaking music, but it's still pretty off in its own world. Imagine society where every teen doesn't virtually worship MTV and there aren't 60 channels.
While I'm on the subject, I will never understand some things about Spanish culture. There's a cooking channel that has also been localized, and all they *ever* show how to cook is traditional Spanish food. I've yet to see someone bake anything, or prepare an asian meal or maybe even a Martha Stuart type of wedding cake or god knows what. They're so closed here in many ways, especially when it comes to food, and the television reflects that. We flip by the channel going from the Cartoon Network to CNNi and I always stop for a second to check it out (because I'm always hungry) and sure enough it's always just *another* way to prepare some sort of paella or something. It's that bad. (The last time I mentioned my distaste for Spanish food I got 2 weeks worth of hassle in my comments and email. I'm not sure if its even worth it this time. Ugh.)
Anyways, a few months ago someone must have tripped over a switch or something because they turned on the "mul" choice in the Sound options. Before that there was just Spanish and English, and English was pretty much always crossed out and in red. The one day this "mul" option appeared and out of nowhere 1/3rd of the channels started having English available! Woohoo! Now Alex gets to watch SpongeBob SquarePants and Little Bill in English and I can see movies without having to listen to the same 6 people who do all dubbing for Spanish films! It's quite nice.
Anyways, all that is gone now while they get that satellite up and running again. Too bad, it's like 1 a.m. I'm really in the mood to zone for 1/2 hour in front of CNN World Sport before going to bed... bleh.