Saturday, February 14, 2015


I'll have to admit, we live in a state where the borders of television are now more and more restrictive. That wasn't the case back in the day. Let's rewind a quarter century;
The 1980s were a phase of high evolution on Portuguese television. In 1980, color television appeared and our eyes were now getting ready, as red, green, blue and all the other permutations of color appear on our screens for the first time. And everybody's been laughing at us because they already had color for quite some time now.
Then RTP experimented with stereoscopic television sometime in the middle of the decade, with an airing of Creature from the Black Lagoon.
Then came the alerts (+, ++) that something was starting on the other channel (Portuguese people only had access to two channeks back then!).
And then, ending the decade in a way similar to the start of it, another large technological advancement spreaded. Satellite dishes.

Satellite dishes revolutionized the way we watched television not only over here but around the world, especially Europe due to the varied programming the channels had. It was a TV fan's dream come true. Now you had access to a dozen of channels of various themes, languages and countries. If you want sardonic comments on this, you must hear Nuno Markl's take on it. Even though you can't understand Portuguese, you can understand some of the concepts behind it.
Kids shows in English were generally restricted to Fun Factory on SKY One and TCC, the first European kids channel in such a language. Then came that moment in September 1993. Cartoon Network didn't exist in Europe back then (the channel hasn't even launched yet) when a revolution known as SKY Multichannels (or, according to Nuno Markl, the scrambled SKY package exclusive to England) sweeped the UK. Channels like the SKY channels and TCC were scrambled and then the European CN launched. It was the beginning of a dynasty.

the days when NOS was known as TV Cabo fade further and further into memory
Around the same time, cable television appeared by taking whatever channels they took via satellite, before it slowly evolved. Cartoon Network was one of the channels available at launch, and back then it was a completely different game, timeshared with TNT. More and more people got to learn English by watching the channel, which sadly no longer works with today's society, which I'll explain later on.
At this moment, Portugal was living a new state of televised democracy. Whereas adults could improve their Spanish by watching the so-called imported Spanish channel on channel 18/19/26/whatever channel it was, whatever region it was, we learned Spanish through Doraemon, which remained like this for a long time. Cartoon Network was also a large-scale televised phenomenon. All of a sudden, cable TV was a gift from foreign people from unknown lands that wanted to teach the 90s generation their languages, especially Spanish and English.
Then they slowly started to develop the market for our language, Portuguese. Still, we still had a preference for foreign language channels, as they were still bringing in cable ratings.
But then the over-saturated market started to saturate the opposite language.
The whole "Learned English From Watching Television" aesthetic began to show signs of death around 2003, but it was just MTV getting a localized version. I don't remember MTV Europe, but that was in a time where MTV was starting to change of tack and say "OK, let's start splitting MTV Europe up".
This was very slow. As channels like Disney Channel and FOX started to get healthy ratings, Cartoon Network's dynasty started to lose weight.
But that was a very slow process. 2013 is where things got their major sacrifice.
In 2013, ESPN America shut down, due to issues with the branding used and with BT Sport. In the same month, the Disney channels got an English audio track, but not every show got it.
I've incessantly asked ZON/NOS about the return of CN HQ, but they say no. Sometimes they say stuff like "You must go to England" and I answer stuff like "But that version of CN is different and I know about every CN there is".
OK, so at least 25 channels in English is OK, but in Portugal, where we claim to have good English, we technically have bad English.

All our claims of having a good English end up in disaster. We mix up concepts and omit sounds, making our English less normal than it's supposed to be. It would be a problem if CN HQ was a single feed again, with colored subtitles in fifteen languages, but then again it would drown the viewer in a sea of text.
But still, the game of trends is pretty much won by Portugal. We are losing English goods.
Some time ago, MTV Rocks and Dance had their British versions throughout continental Europe. We got to see British ads without going to the UK. I was jealous of their ad style. Then they decided to split off the feeds with these feeds now operating from the Czech Republic, where the music market is stronger than the kids market.
Portugal is a country that is suffering from Anglophobia - fear of TV channels that broadcast in English without any kind of translation in Portuguese. We have to face what's coming - otherwise the BBC channels will be removed. We did got to see the World Cup in English for a little while on Bragatel, as they had CBeebies/BBC Four and BBC One for a little while, until the TV provider ended their game. Back then the language interests game was in a different league, involving French (M6) and German (RTL). This game had to do with rights involving Sport TV. But that's another concept. We in Portugal want to see the English TV industry grow further and further into a nice amount of channels, varied themes and other kinds of unexplored concepts.
We have never seen Coronation Street, but they will never take our EastEnders.

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