Alligators 'n Roadkill

Alligators 'n Roadkill
On The Road


Thursday, November 4, 2010

I Want My MTV?

"Why do you sit there looking like an envelope without any address on it?" - Mark Twain

First, let me provide you with a statement, that is relatively current: According to figures by the Instituto Nacional de Estadística y Censos (INEC), 30% of Costa Rican homes are connected to subscription[sic] television (cable or satellite), which represents a market potential of 330.000 subscribers. - - - from Inside Costa Rica, July 26, 2010

Now, based on that statement, I have a rhetorical question for you (or, if you can answer it accurately, please feel free to do so): How many of those subscribers do y'all suppose are subscribed primarily so that they might obtain English language programming? Maybe 5,000? I doubt if the number is that high, but let's go with it. That's less than 1%, folks.

So, to the meat: I am going to try to avoid being behind the curve yet again, so this is written in some haste. Let me say first that it seems that all of a sudden certain online forums are full of complaints about Amnet and the recent changes that cable company has made to its channel lineup. This has now culminated (just this morning) with a letter to the editor of AMCostaRica, from a Mr. Barbour. Rather than be summarily dismissed by Jay Brodell, the editor over there, I figured I'd just create my own little editorial/précis on this subject.

On the one hand, we have the ostriches who have taken their heads out of the sand long enough to complain that these changes occurred without their knowledge (and, they imply, their consent). On the other, we have those whose primary concern is just that they feel that their access to English language broadcasts is of primary importance in the general scheme of things, and is now being further restricted than previously.

Well, guess what folks? No sympathy here. For the ostrich crowd, this was not a sudden, unannounced change. It was publicized everywhere that it was appropriate by the company in question, just as American cable companies and satellite providers do. As a matter of fact, the very forum where so many of the current complaints are now appearing contained information about the changes before they took place (most places would consider that advance warning). But, the ostriches live in such a tiny world, that they only notice change after the fact, when it pretty much smacks 'em upside the head. Actually, fyi, and for those who are always complaining about a lack of communication from ICE, CableTica, et al, they should know that there is communication from all of these entities on their various websites – in Spanish, the language of the country. Granted, there is not much back and forth, even in that language, but there is a lot of information available to customers, if they will just avail themselves of it.

And, for the others, why is there this constant whining about a lack of English language usage in a country that has Spanish as the official language, and where the percentage of non-Spanish speakers remains miniscule? Didn't anyone tell you this simple fact of life in Costa Rica before you came here? Do I have to repeat the numbers for you? Remember simple economics, or supply and demand, folks. How can it pay any provider to provide a service for such a small percentage of the market, at the risk of losing the majority, which would probably be where the money is, ¿que no?

First, how many of these same whiners complained at the number of Spanish speakers in the states, and thought it was wrong to cater to them, without taking into consideration how many more millions of them there were and are, than there are English speakers here in Costa Rica? And, second, why didn't y'all take some measures before arriving here to satisfy your need for English language entertainment? Ultimately, as my friend, Andy Browne is fond of saying, "It is what it is," and we all have to live with it.

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