IN NEW YORK, so I’ve been told, television viewers have 500 channels available to them. I’ve often wondered how they can fill the available airtime. Can there possibly be enough programming in the world to keep 500 TV channels running non-stop? Well, as DStv has demonstrated, the answer is really quite simple. Endless repeats. DStv has a mere 70 or 80 channels, as far as I can tell, and it clearly has difficulty keeping even that modest number running. So it re-runs – endlessly – hoary old BBC series from the Seventies and even earlier, it sometimes seems.
Judge John Deed, Inspector Poirot, Morse, that jolly lot from Only Fools and Horses, that other happy bunch from Porridge – they keep going round in agonising circles of boredom. I’m probably exaggerating, but every time I switch on DStv I seem to find a programme I’ve seen at least twice before.
Why do they do this? Is it to save money? Or to demonstrate to the regulatory powers-that-be that there’s no point in handing out more licences to broadcasters because there’s not enough material for the existing channels as it is. If the latter, it seems the wannabe pay-TV stations have already abandoned the territory. Which merely underlines the redundancy of regulation. If the regulators had simply left the airwaves open to anybody who wanted to use them – on a firstcome, first-served basis – we might have had some competition for MNet and DStv. Because regulation served only to delay the start-ups, alerting MNet/MultiChoice to their plans and giving them time to prepare for battle.