Wayne Flask

Author Translator Music Writer Public Annoyance

This doesn’t happen in Iran: Kill the Dreambox.


I read with a mix of interest and disgust The Times loud front page feature about the surge in the sale of satellite dishes, Dreamboxes and the infamous card-sharing methods. Interest, because they’re reporting this at a crucial time when the football seasons have just begun, where Go and Melita have  both found themselves licking the self inflicted wounds caused by what looks like competition, but is in fact a very limited sparring session these two have been up to, with what were really a couple of friendly raps during the World Cup parleyed around like they were World War III.

And disgust, of course, because to my knowledge I hardly remember a Times journalist working undercover. They sent two people undercover to Dreambox shops to make enquiry on their behalf. Last time I talked of undercover to a former Times journalist, he spent an hour quizzing himself why I wanted him to participate in what he thought was one of Montesin’s earlier sitcoms.

Now – we all know Times tend to report certain issues a tad later than, say, Maltatoday, who had already brought up the issue a long time ago – but this article frankly comes like a bolt out of the blue. For, let’s face it, we all knew the upsurge in card sharing would have happened as early as April, when Go trumpeted they had won the rights to broadcast the Serie A and Melita’s former mainstay, the Premier League. (Whether or not this was down to the departure of a senior figure from Melita remains to be seen.) But the average Joe Bloggs whose Maltese version finds the likes of Ġużi Bilocca (who?) probably crossed his arms in a typical “no way” gesture and set out to look for the best alternative.

Think about this. Go have the rights to broadcast Serie A and Premier League, which they buy from the agent of the agent of the agent of Sky and/or whoever. Melita have the rights to broadcast Champions League from UEFA. But strictly speaking, and this is where their logic stops making sense, none of them can block the transmission of Sky Cinema – they don’t own any rights on that. And nor of the rest of Sky Italia, because apart from a handful of channels (ha! Jimmy and a PG version of E Entertainment) they are transmitting absolutely nothing. Therefore,  cardsharering providers would be “stealing” from Sky’s very open arms, and I’m sure they have more things to worry about than 12% of Malta’s population sharing a few cards (which cost quite a bit).

By the way, the last time they played court games over transmission of football, when one of the providers blocked access to the other’s RAI 1 when some football was being aired, the judge took a dim view and no barring was allowed since then. Consumer 1-0 Provider.

Because – and this is my point – if there is no choice, why should we, in the age of the internet, not look for alternatives? Frankly, both providers offer a sickening channel lineup. And not like Go get their football feeds from Sky Italia… just listen to the abysmal English commentary to some top matches. Ridi-fuckin-culous.

Mind you, Sky Italia is not the only provider to broadcast football. You’d have to block Al Jazeera, Sportitalia, then the Spanish channels, and then the French channels, the Norwegians, the Poles, the Greeks, the Hungarians, the Romanians *yawn* and finally you have the Albanians. The end result would be One TV. Nice.

So – and I’m not posting this on the Times as it will probably be moderated – getting some media lackeys to fight in the war against cardsharing is the lowest you can stoop. Have you not, Melita and Go, made your ounces of gold in the past ten years off the backs of consumers? Now perhaps, you might start thinking of bringing in choice. I mean, real products. Not HD channels nobody’s heard of.

My Go box has been sitting in my room for five years. It still bears the Multiplus logo. One of these days I’m going to pull the plug on it for good. I’m sick of having RaiDue as the most entertaining channel.

PS talk of police taking action – did anybody help Grace in her war against pirated DVD’s? I thought so.

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