June 10, 2006

2006 World Cup--Viewed, or not, in Taiwan

The date has come and gone, the World Cup has begun, my cable service has expired, and the local cork smokers at the cable company are dropping the ball again. That is to say, my cable is still going strong despite being two weeks into the month after it was supposed to be turned off. This is the sort of organization one gets used to after awhile and just says, "oh, but of course."

As I still have cable in my house, I can tell you that the World Cup is being broadcast in Taichung on two channels, 38 & 50. Neither of these channels, as I suspected, is broadcasting in English. Actually, I'm hard pressed to tell the difference between the game on the two channels. Same announcers, same camera angles, all I can see is that the channel logo in the upper-right hand of the screen is different. One assumes the reason for two different channels running the same program is that ad revenue can be doubled. They're certainly not reaching out to a broader audience.

In the meantime, as I'm sure many readers are interested, the billiards programming on Star Sports is still broadcast in both English and Chinese 24 hours a day.

The guy doing the commentary for the show appears to be sitting in the MUCH TV studio in Taipei. There's a widescreen TV behind him and an ASUS laptop in front of him. For the post game wrap up, the English graphics are on the screen and he's just translating what they say.

I watched the first half of the game at the Londoner with a couple hundred people. The ventilation was insufficient, the smoke was overwhelming, and I couldn't find my friends anyway, so I came back to watch the second half from the comfort of my wooden sofa. There were no commercials in the first half, but MUCH TV 38 got in their two minutes' worth every twenty minutes or so. I remember they did this in the States back in 1994, but the commercials were just unobstrusive little banners in a corner of the screen. No shame here. The game was shrunk down to 1/16 of the screen as Ford, Carrefour, some foot creme or other, and probably an insurance company had their hash slung on the rest of the screen. Corporate bastards.

The other TV bastards (MUCH TV 50?) were showing the game in a small window in the bottom right of the screen while running and re-running a two-week-old clip of the president's son-in-law appearing outside of court. It's amazing the kind of crap you can get away with when your country isn't recognized.

I know, I know. I should count my lucky stars that I didn't move to Ghana where I would now be watching the games on kerosene powered television sets

The games are shown here at 9:00 p.m., 12:00 & 3:00 a.m. With me working in the mornings now, I don't suppose I'll be seeing too much of the games, but that's ok, as an American, there's only so much I can take.

The office pool is enough to get me interested. However my teams, Spain and Ghana don't look likee they'll be going all the way this year. It would be a pleasant surprise for me, the Spaniards and the Ghanians if they did, and it would pad my pocket slightly.

Go Ghana Real!

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