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Monday, April 30, 2007

Where art thou NHK?

I woke up this morning and turned on the TV to find that the local Fengyuan (Fongyuan) 豊原(とよはら) cable TV provider has once again undertaken an unannounced reshuffling of some of the available channels. This seems to happen at least once a year, and always affects the NHK channel. This time the Japanese broadcaster has been shunted from its previous position at Channel 96 even further into the hinterlands at Channel 107, just after all the Buddhist channels. Why? Who knows?! The last time I checked at Steve's apartment in T'aichung (Taijhong) 台中(たいちゅう) it was on something like Channel 20 there, so I guess the Japanese expat TV audience isn't very large in the Fengyuan area when compared to Taichung. Unlike the commercial Japanese TV channels also aired on the cable TV package (some of which appear to have been moved as well), NHK's programs aren't subtitled in Mandarin 中国語, which no doubt makes it irrelevant for most Taiwanese viewers. (As a side note, the high quality but bland programming offered by NHK wouldn't appeal to many people here even if the shows had subtitles, at least when compared to the absolute crap that passes for entertainment on Taiwanese TV. Commercial TV in Japan is pretty awful as well, but a lot of shows in Taiwan are really bad imitations and/or ripoffs of Japanese programming. It's crap taken to the next lowest level).

And why does this matter? Well, I'm not Japanese, but I like to watch NHK at times for its broadcasts of Japanese baseball and J-League soccer games. I also enjoy the programs that show the scenic beauty of Japan. But most of all it's because Amber loves the Monday-Friday noon hour children's programs which are, needless to say, a heckuva lot better than the made-in-Taiwan kiddie shows I've seen so far. The picture quality on the channels in the 100's isn't as clear compared to the ones in the lower digits, though that's probably more a reflection of the poor condition of our old TV set. At least NHK is still around. Who knows where it will end up in the next reshuffle?

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