Thursday, August 14, 2014

The saga of CN PT

Finally, and after a long delay, here's the saga of CN PT.
So, CN PT then. That despairfest that has been running for months and months and months on end and is a cul-de sac where we can't leave.
But it has a backstory. A backstory that is longer than CN PT itself.
It has a backstory of roughly three years, but the channel in question has been on my mind for about two years.
Anyway, before CN PT was on my mind, Cartoon Network was in English. You already know, right?
Some CN shows were dubbed into Portuguese on terrestrial channels. Viewers on cable got used to a world of cartoons in English, but then again, in 2011, very few people were watching.
I gave up Cartoon Network in the middle of 2007. Fair enough, in my opinion, the channel was entering what I like to call "the dark ages". I wouldn't get Boomerang until the following year, just because those classic cartoons filled a loophole which only three shows did, and we didn't get any of those shows at all for two years (May 2005 to ca. August 2007).
Eventually Cartoon Network got rid of those three shows in 2009.
Cartoon Network left the dark ages when I started watching the channel again regularly in August 2010. After being inspired by Gameboy Video, I wanted to make a similar thing for Nintendo's DS. Unfortunately, I only made a prototype for it. It never went forward. I was about to use my DVR's recordings of my favorite shows on CN and Boomerang, but it failed. I continued recording from Boomerang and CN until I changed decoders.
Anyway, Cartoon Network changed looks on December 7th, 2010. I caught a peek of it just before going to school. Cartoon Network, in my opnion, improved, and for the better. They just improved so much, that the following year was the best year I had with CN. It all started with Cow and Chicken before eventually adding more Cartoon Cartoons throughout the following year (2011). CN was worth watching... however the channel didn't have good ratings... and basically a few people cared.
The same is true to Boomerang, but it was neither here nor there. It only had fewer regular viewers because very few people got it. The channel was still at it's prime.
Anyway, in the fall of 2011, I had the most brilliant idea: a CN block on RTP 1, with shows dubbed into Portuguese, with dubs that would be as good as the originals, airing on weekend mornings. I started picturing the AT characters in EU-PT, and, from what I remember, Lady Rainicorn was "Menina Arcoicórnio", which was ten thousand times better than the name they use on the dub we get now. And in the middle of those events, Darwin the Merman was born.
Unfortunately, I gave up with those plans altogether. I tried e-mailing RTP to demand a CN block. No one answered me. My suggestions didn't work. I was a loser.
Eventually, in August 2012, I had an idea: if Portuguese terrestrial television had more channels, one of them would easily be CN Portugal. I wanted it not to replace, but to complement. That's what the Arabic version does. It's an FTA channel which is also available on pay TV providers, alongside CN HQ. And there are lots of expats living there so it's still popular in either language.
CN HQ was a monument on Portuguese cable television: one of the channels from the first phase (the phase of foreign channels aplenty) still around.
I later came up ith a Cartoonito, which would broadcast for fifteen hours (from 06:00 to 21:00. Just give it 24 hours nowadays). I wanted those channels to air ads and local content. When Toonami Asia launched in December, I also wanted a Portuguese version of it. Turns out that I have to wait a long time for Turner to insist and launch Toonami Europe as a channel. They can try and relaunch the channel they had in the UK just to do that.
That fall, I tried to talk with other people from the building where I live. Unfortunately, my parents didn't let me in. I was about to make surveys like "Cartoon Network: in English or in Portuguese?" but I didn't.
Once again, it failed. But at least it lived on through the start of 2013. I wanted to make it trilingual (Portuguese, English and Spanish) but let alone Spanish, and there you go.
2013 was a twisted year. Not only I got lots of channels (and lost a few ones), but it ended in a twist so powerful that changed an entire nation in the process.
MEO launched a CN app in June, and it was a very huge step. How did they did that? Content agreement?
October led to a soft launch of CN PT in Angola and Mozambique on October 1st. I was happy at first, but I didn't know the channel existed for another four days.
November, however, brought us a shock: Boomerang was no more. So was TCM.
Long live CN 24/7.
Unfortunately, and by the end of the month, turns out that CN HQ had it's days counted. Very few days left, to be more accurate. I thought that December 2nd would be the last day I could get it, and recorded the final couple of minutes before TCM started, so that I could treasure it for years and years, and show it to my kids.
The following songs suited the rest of the story very well:
the day the switch happened was the first day of "the rest" of my life
I woke up the following morning, just before I went to school, and CN HQ was still there. I was watching an episode of Regular Show: A Bunch of Baby Ducks. Turns out that a couple of hours later, the Portuguese audiovisual landscape changed forever.
There were no loopholes left. We entered a cul-de-sac. We wouldn't leave. We didn't leave. We were stuck. We had no options left, but to cringe at the dubs we could see and compare that to a sort of torture.
I couldn't see the switch because I was at school. It was 09:55. I had to wait until the next day to see the switch in action: after a cross-promotion with TCM for Inner Space.
Anyway, 16:00. I'm coming home from school and I was thinking about the channel. Would it be a shadow of CN HQ? Would it have the same annoying fillers as CN HQ? Would it broadcast in 4:3? Minutes later, I turned on the TV at my bedroom. I didn't want to already switch to channel 47, where CN in. I decided that it was a good idea to use another channel as a pillow. I used Canal Panda, which is channel 42. Unfortunately, My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic was on. Considering that I'm not a brony, I quickly changed to CN PT, and I wasn't warmly welcomed with the shock of the new.
The Powerpuff Girls was on.
The episode was Members Only.
Those few seconds changed my life.
Changed my perception on Cartoon Network.
Changed my view of Portugal.
Changed my view of the world.
Changed my view of television.
The bumpers were all the same.
The announcer was annoying.
And many other things.
Portuguese children lost their favorite teacher: it did learn but it wasn't a teacher like the ones you get at school. You also got fewer shows and episodes.
And the worst part of it was the Regular Show limbo that lasted four months and we were gifted with an awful dub.
It seems that the gift of cable television no longer offered us tons of foreign channels. Portuguese channels were dominating the market. No English-speaking channel to be found on the top 10. It was like a dead mall (well, almost) adapted for television.
I begged both Turner and the TV providers to bring CN HQ back and impress my TV provider (ZON, later NOS) with my international CN knowledge. But ZON/NOS thought that the channel was still airing in the UK: one of the answers I got was "you must need to go to the UK".
In May, thanks to a Toonzone user called RegularCapital, I decided to e-mail Humphrey Black. That was re-sent to someone at the Portuguese CN offices in Madrid (yes, Madrid, please AXN, make offices in Lisbon), which led to the CN HQgate. Thanks to it, now I knew the reasons why we lost CN HQ in the first place: low ratings.
You can't remove a long-running channel due to low ratings, but if you live in the UK, you might remember a certain channel called Bravo that closed due to different reasons: the content was available on other SKY-owned channels.
CN HQ will probably return by next month if my dreams come true. I will end up singing the Romanian ESC entry from this year when an announcement on it arrives.
Will this come true?


  1. Inner Space started on TVC 4 minutes ago, it's called "O Micro-Herói" over here.

  2. I sadly don't envision CN HQ returning any time soon to CN PT now that the ratings have finally gone up.
    I mean, it is in the Top 10, or 15. Something that popular probably won't go away that soon unless something dramatic happens.

    1. When CN HQ returns, there will be a CN battle!
      CN HQ vs. CN PT

  3. I also think that CN HQ won't return soon. I doubt that Turner will put a channel with such low ratings back on the air in Portugal.

    1. But the channel had more than that: it teached English to kids.
      Boomerang had lower ratings, ZON/NOS kept it healthily for five years. Now their schedule has improved a bit with a few more classic shows.