To TV or not to TV

A couple of TIME magazines ago, there was a small ”Numbers” paragraph talking about how much time people in different countries spend watching TV. It said that the Japanese watched most television in the world: an average of 300 minutes per day, while Swedes watch TV “only” for 150 minutes per day, lowest in the study. Some googling made me find the secondary source from Reuters, where one can read that Americans come in second with a 265-minute average.

265 minutes? 300 minutes?!! That means 2-3 movies per day. (I am happy if I manage to get time for one single movie, which doesn’t happen that often anymore.) Anyway, the reason for my sudden TV interest is a combination of two things, namely 1) that my satellite receiver has stopped working since a couple of months back and 2) that the 2005 Ice Hockey World Championships finals will be held this week. The Ice Hockey WC was the sole reason to why I actually bought a satellite receiver two years ago.

Up until now, I’ve been totally OK not to use my TVs or my projector for “TV”, but only DVDs and video games. But ice hockey can turn men into something that they’re usually not ;) This gives me three (or four) alternatives:

1) Fix the satellite equipment + open up the subscription again
2) Buy a terrestrial digital TV receiver + subscription
3) Order IP-TV

To fix the satellite equipment doesn’t seem like an alternative, partly because my father-in-law is an architect and hates the antenna (“the best way to ruin your façade is to put one of those dish antennas on it!”) and partly because you the subscription model totally sucks. I don’t want to pay 300 USD for watching three games.

The second option, terrestrial DTV, would make our current government happy. They decided that everyone in Sweden that want to keep on using terrestrial TV have to buy digital receivers within a two-year period from now. The main reason to why everyone must make that switch is that DTV can host more channels in the same terrestrial spectrum, which is “good for everyone”. The crux is that, in order to view any of those other channels, you have to subscribe to them at pretty much the same price as you do for satellite or cable packages. And you have to get that subscription from the monopoly company Boxer, which is a joint venture between the state of Sweden and the private savings and life insurance company Skandia.

So, in effect, the government has spent, and will spend, billions of kronors in order to “be able to offer more channels in the terrestrial network”. But those “other channels” are not public service channels. Instead, Boxer is now unfairly competing with IP-TV from the ISPs, as well as satellite TV. The ISPs and the satellite TV companies paid for their infrastructure themselves, but Boxer gets a free ride from the Swedish taxpayers’ money.

The DTV project is the child of our former minister of culture Marita Ulvskog. Considering that our she used to be a member of the communist party, and that she has had a tough time legislating for Swedish privately owned media, it suddenly makes sense. She is simply trying to compete with the private media companies, but with some extra money from the taxpayers under the table. People should get all their media delivered through state-owned companies, right?

Option three is simply not an option, since my (partly state-owned) ISP Telia has failed to include anyone of BBC World, CNN and TV3 in the package. And TV3 is the channel that shows the hockey…

It seems like I’ll end up with option four: going to a sports bar and watch the games with friends.

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