I often ask, when bored about television offerings, whether is there anything about local people in local situations on nicely logo-free Sianel Pedwar Cymru (Digidol) or BBC Alba? Thanks to satellite TV there are these choices. There are others too.
I am sure there are some people with satellite television who like to eat late TV dinners sat in front of sad unglamorous females with padded breasts (the operations for which they need to finance), who roll around pointing at telephones for people to ring them at an extraordinary £1.50 a minute or 75p in some cases. As I understand it, punters are as likely to talk to some woman in her kitchen with a phone under her chin saying dirty things while she cleans the dishes. In the world of easy pornography these channels and their non-content are rather puzzling; I can only think there is an addiction about talking to someone on or off screen who is a lousy substitute for a real relationship, with a terrible phone bill at the end of the month to show for it. That's how I understood my brief encounter with photographic studios (reached from a photographic club) and people who photographed the same model over and over again. The model knew it was a business but the punters seemed to be imagining things. I even gave a talk about it back at the photographic club (that made me popular).
Some people scroll through shopping channels and their miracle working solutions to this, that and the other. Others spend to gamble on another set of channels for that particular non-solution to their addiction.
Alternatively you can look at the other peculiarity on satellite TV, the miracle working religious channels. They in their personalities are about as nourishing as the pneumatic twenty year olds and above elsewhere. These satellite channels, with the one exception of the Roman Catholic one that worships the Pope (and cannot possibly reflect the breadth even of Roman Catholicism), are pretty much all creationist and Christian-Zionist in bias. One channel, the one that looks like it runs on a shoestring budget, also shows frequent anti-Islamic tendencies. Genesis-Revelation TV constantly says (for OFCOM purposes) that they want to hear all opinions, but you rarely do - occasionally a Muslim comes on the phone for a dialogue of sorts - but there is a constant diet of Judaism the tree and Christianity the branch, creationism of six days (especially with Darwin 200/150 - I received my OU/ BBC Tree of Life poster today) and surface fundamentalism. There seems to be a connection with the rise of black churches and their form of fundamentalism. Some of it is quite homely, literally in the case of one programme. I gather it is run by an ex-pop group individual and his wife, he who was balding recently but has since had miracle hair growth for the sake of appearances.
What's this all about? The pro-Israel position of these channels is religious Zionist to the point of myopia, fuelled by last days fantasies about Jews returning to a whole Israel and thus Christ himself to appear. It does of course relate to exported right wing American politics and funding. They pretty much all take Pat Robertson's 700 Club, for example, but they take these personalities - one of whom (Don Stewart) wants to give away (must be) green prayer handkerchiefs because of some lines in the Bible. It is all a cheap circulation of boring and sermonising programmes. The most tedious of programmes is the Alpha one with Nicky Gumbel boring the pants off any viewer by standing and talking on and on and on.
It is, though, the religious fantasy than politics that drives these channels, that somehow events in the news media are worse today than ever before and this means the world is coming to an end, and as such the coming end is centred around Israel. These are no Martin Luther Protestants regarding Christianity and his anti-semitism, but they can be very anti-Roman Catholicism (Genesis-Revelation TV again) and definitely anti-Islamic. The creationism is that there can be no death in any creature before Adam, and if there was then Jesus cannot be saving people by conquering death. Most Christians say if the resurrection is not true then they are fools, but this creationist logic is a very high hurdle when the age of the earth and DNA based Darwinianism is supported by such incontrovertible evidence. There is a division in this Christian sector between the purists of surface reading scriptural authority and the personalities of charismatic religion: this comes down to whether "apostles" are limited to the biblical period or whether they can appear now: that now they show signs and wonders when preaching such as all this on-stage healing. They are based on - the latter. There was a lot of investment in Todd Bentley fairly recently on God TV that went bankrupt. Even Genesis-Revelation TV's main man had a miracle reported to his person, that someone he touched, who had been dead he was later told, and lived again. Presumably that would make quite a stage show, though he did it on his travels.
Flickering God TV and God TV Europe is doing a Missions Week at the moment. I noticed in flicking through that on Genesis-Revelation TV one of the presenters asked about this via email said he sees "a lot of money being raised but little mission". I thought that was funny. The usual display of personalities from these circulated programmes turns up on God TV to parade their money raising abilities. John Hagee is that big political-religious chap who'd launch a war with Iran and have Christians float up above it. Rod Parsley turned up, without Dill the Dog, and went into monologues of bizarre artificiality, but my annoyance was reserved yesterday evening for that funny guy who wears a logo, Benny Hill (is it?) but without Hill's Angels. He said that there is a credit crunch but the way to defeat this is to "bring back the Gospel into your life" and give the television station money. Now imagine a religious fundy sitting in some living room, losing their home or car, in all kinds of financial trouble, being told by this overpaid logo-wearing hair nicely done individual that they are currently lacking the gospel, and ought to restore it by paying this channel money. It is a form of mental extortion. The other day Wendy Alec of Rory and Wendy was saying how little they can do without the right money: I'd close the bloody lot down never mind what little they can and cannot do. They all peddle this idea that by giving them money you, the individual, will receive more, thanks to God, fat cats every one. I must say, though, Rory, who (like me) looks like he eats well, is a bit energetic in his delivery but I'm worried about Wendy, who seems to jump around the studio in some sort of near speaking in tongues when she gets going, as if this is supposed to convince other people about religious intensity.
I always remember the episode in Colditz on BBC One about the man who impersonated being mad, in order to convince the Germans he was mad and be sent home, and who was eventually let out and returned to Britain via the Red Cross. When in Britain he was indeed mad and had to be looked after. The Commanding Officer told the prisoners that this method of escape was never to be used again.
That's how I view these TV channels. They are lost in their own empire building, distorted personalities and religious fantasies. They are a back-end feature of our postmodern world, choice with contradiction: even more so in satellite world, among the shopping channels, the gambling channels and the young women with surgical enhancements.