Satellite TV - erotica and extreme boredom

After spending three weeks at my family home where the only entertainment available was TV, watching plants wilt or the thrice daily "feeding of the fish" ceremony I learnt an awful lot about Sky TV. Since I have an empty life and little better to do I thought I'd share the fruits of my research.

Any network which can send me the OJ trial for at least 10 hours a day is paradise for me. Especially if I have the free time to enjoy it. The tedium, the horror, the mindless quibbling, I love it all. What I like best is imagining being one of the jurors who've been cut off from society and plunged into a strange world of long-winded objections, pointless cross-examinations and incredibly tedious summings-up very different from the snappy LA Law that we know and love. Anyway, I am addicted to watching this so naturally I'm slightly biased towards Sky. However, despite this and Star Trek (and variants) I have my misgivings.

Sky prime time viewing tends to be things that a normal TV station would bury carefully or put out at 3am after a subtitled movie about the trauma of adolescence in Yemen. Thinking that there are people out there who would want to watch reruns of "Every Second Counts" (surely one of the most irritating quiz-shows ever to blight the Earth) fills me with despair for the human race.

Also, Sky is a net consumer of TV program resource. I was unable to detect anything actually made by Sky TV apart from the news and the little "in between" chatty bits that are so endemic in modern television. They make nothing and just gobble up programs that other people make and then charge you to view them - the middle-management of television. It's important to ask ourselves "shouldn't we put them up against the wall and shoot them before it's too late".

But wait, there's worse to come - everyone my age can remember the furore of the mid-late eighties when satellite TV was this strange thing that Americans and rich people did with large metal bowls. Then suddenly some sex-crazed tabloid journo staggering drunkenly through the mansions of the rich and famous made a horrifying discovery. You can recieve porn on these things! Shock Horror Probe Expose - imagine the effect on the nation if anybody with a few thousand to spend could get pictures of Italian housewives stripping (pictures page 7). Satellite TV was instantly associated in the British consciousness with filth and depravity - its future success was assured (and after all, what could be more depraved than wanting to watch reruns of Every Second Counts). All it required was a brain-dead Australian to bring the price down to an "affordable level" (if you don't mind a third mortgage) and suddenly satellite TV was mass media.

So does the satellite TV of today live up to the promise that we'd be sickened beyond belief and our children would grow up warped as a cavalcade of naked, aching lust paraded in front of our helpless, bulging eyes. Unless you can see something in quiz show hosts that I can't then not really. There is a certain amount of sensationalist blood-thirsty gore but nobody watches the news channels anyway.

Where did it all go? Well naturally, for the good of the children, it was encoded. Phew, the nation is safe again. The vile filth is all locked away on Adult Channel and Fantasy X channel where only those who don't mind being on a mailing list of "people who enjoy watching puerile scandanavian pornography" can see it. You do get a free 15 minute sampler of these channels and purely in the interests of research I forced myself to watch. It was certainly interesting stuff - I'd never seen a 15 minute long advert before and it was challenging to the endurance - for those who don't wish to bother with this I'll summarise.

Enter two young women in white suspenders:

"Welcome to the Fantasy Channel."
{Suggestive grin}
"And here's what you can see tonight."
{Cheesily done caption showing that the nights viewing consists of four films all of which have titles which could be generated with a thesaurus and the phrase "Warm and sexually-aroused"}
{Extremely suggestive leer}
{5 minute tune in which a phone number is repeated to you in a hypnotic monotone while telephone hold music plays over and over and the camera shows what appears to be an extreme soft focus view of an underwear drawer}
{Horrible smirk}
"And don't forget to sign up, because if you didn't then you'd be able to hear us but not see us and we wouldn't want that now _would we?"
"And now for our first film, that classic 'Hot and...'"
{Suddenly channel dissolves in static and leaves the view with sound only and a sign saying "Please insert card"}

Now I find this worrying. Not because these women are being exploited - that's a side issue and I can think of worse ways of exploiting people than making them dress in white lace, act like they have a single figure IQ and grin like Sid James (famed early British comedy actor and well known figure of fun and lechery). No, my real worry is that there's a generation of British adolescents who will associate static interference with the moans and screams of badly faked sexual intercourse. Imagine the damage this will do to the nation. Gradually the static will come to be erotic in itself in the same way that underwear has aquired sexual overtones merely by being worn in proximity to sexual organs. Imagine the horror. Imagine what life would be like for a TV repair man subjected to constant spurious sexual signals during his daily life.

Worse, if the phrase "Please insert card" gains a sexual meaning what will become of auto-teller machines? Will they need privacy booths? Will retired colonels write letters to The Telegraph (a British newspaper noted for its nineteenth century stance on political issues) complaining that that kind of filth should be kept out of Britain's banking institutions (or at least confined to the boardrooms).

Of course this is only the British filth, and after all, it was those degenerate Europeans that we were really supposed to worry about. So what opportunities are their for us to accidentally stray onto foriegn satellite channels and be appalled by an invasion of Euro-smut weakening our national fibre? Well, just to protect the consumer (of course) I felt I should check out the satellite TV from other nations. Of course they're whole other cultures and naturally their television is entirely different to ours. For example, in Germany Commander Riker speaks in a much higher pitched voice whereas Agent Mulder has a lower voice and Fred and Wilma Flintstone are known as Friedrich and Vilma.

There was one really curious thing I did learn from German satellite television though. Apparently, in Germany there's a law that states that in the hours of darkness they can only advertise telephone sex and knives. If it's not a law it's a rigidly adhered to piece of self-regulation. I found it faintly disturbing although was quite impressed by the quality and cheapness of the knives (some of which retain their edge after cutting through concrete).

So what are the highlights of Satellite TV. For me, I think it had to be the German channel that after about 2am showed nothing but the sight and sound of a roaring log fire. Lovely, if a bit out of place in the summer. When the long nights set in that'll make good viewing.

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