Blogs in this series

Life in Culebrón is a disconnected series of pieces about the banal and ordinary of everyday life in an inland Alicante village seen from my very British perspective.

Saturday, February 15, 2014

Crowding round the telly

I still watch TV more or less as I did in the 1960s. Not that I stare avidly at Zip Nolan or Mike Nelson in Sea Hunt but I do generally, watch broadcast television at the time that it is broadcast. Every now and then I will use the streaming feeds from a TV company for the missed episode and I have even been known to steal television programmes from one of the torrent sites. I don't really understand torrents though and I am usually mightily disappointed when after downloading something for hours or days the picture keeps macroblocking.

I begged a cup off coffee of some pals yesterday. They told me that Sky, or whoever it is that uses whichever satellites to send out whatever British satellite TV signals, has just shifted everything around again. They do this from time to time presumably for technical reasons, possibly to add quality or functionality, and maybe to deny the signal to we expats. It certainly sends ripples through the Brit population who have parabolic dishes the size of the the Parkes Radio Telescope in their back gardens. We've got one.

My usual fare is broadcast digital terrestrial Spanish TV. We have slightly more channels in Culebrón than down in Murcia but in both places I think it's around 40 TV channels plus a bunch of radio stations. I have, occasionally considered one of the TV packages offered by the various Internet providers but, in the end, the price always puts me off.

Although I'm still vaguely trying to improve my Spanish I long ago abandoned watching English language programmes in Spanish as the dubbing is risible. The actors, who are often quite famous here, use less emotion than the speaking clock and children are interpreted by adults making a squeaking sound reminiscent of piglets. The digital TV signal usually allows me to change the language to the original language, when that isn't Spanish, so I don't have to put up with the hideous dubbing.

Anyway, after my conversation about the changes to the availability of British TV I switched on the Sky box to see what channels were still working. All the ones I was looking for were still there. It was the first time I'd watched British TV for ages. Our Sky box is an ancient thing, just a decoder. Neither it nor the telly have a hard disc so there is none of the potential to record programmes or to stop a TV programme whilst you make a cup of tea. Even in the brief period I watched there were adverts for TV series on demand and lots of interactive services. I don't know much about the varieties of technological wizardry available to modern TV viewers but it did make me wonder about the sophistication of Spanish viewing habits as against British ones.

I occasionally discuss TV with my students. Most of them don't really watch TV, they watch TV programmes on their computers. Very few seem to hook up the computer to the bigger TV screen and nobody has ever described watching TV via boxes which integrate broadcast TV, Internet catch up services or direct Internet TV though I believe those sort of things are common in the UK. They must be available here but, maybe, Spaniards have a better plan for their spare time spurred on by all those open air cafés and the milder climate.

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