by Rohini Mohan
Sony Entertainment Television (SET) was launched on Comcast in Central and Northern California on August 8th. Comcast is very enthusiastic about the launch, which was a result of popular demand; apparently there have been a large number of subscribers for the new channel already, in the couple of weeks that the new channel has been available to viewers. Just another endorsement of the fact that South Asians in the Bay Area have a voice and that the voice is being heard loud and clear. Cable TV, like the internet has totally revolutionized our world. I remember the time in the mid nineties in India when we graduated from Krishi Darshan/ Chitrahar/ Buniyaad/ Quiz Time to the world of Cable. Suddenly, the Indian viewer had overwhelming choice, and unlike Doordarshan, the sun never set on cable TV. 24 by 7 programming, over 50 channels, the world brought into our homes. The impact of it all hit me when I heard my maid (who I knew for a fact could speak nothing other than hard core Tamil) eloquently humming Mera Laung Gawacha, lyrics and all! And now, as an NRI with a kid who is old enough to establish his cultural identity, I find it particularly comforting that he has such easy access to things Indian. He can choose to spend the evening watching “The High School Musical” or he can switch to “Indian Idol” with just a click of the button on the remote. Indian culture served up on a platter, no fuss, no extra effort, the best of both worlds. (And it’s not so bad for my entertainment either!) Sony TV has been around from 1995 and is now available in 100 countries. It was launched in the US in 2000 and has been available on the DISH network. Sony is big time into reality TV and it’s most popular program is Indian Idol, others being Boogie Woogie, soap operas like Love Story, Khwaish, Virrudh, Kaajjal, and many Bollywood movies, both classic and new. New soaps like Amber Dhara and Salam Zindagi are on the cards. Simply Health is another brand new show which will air Sundays at 8.00 am, concentrating on health topics of interest to the South Asian community. SONY is also currently in conversation with Aaj Tak a 24 hour news show and may be including this to their list of offerings. Except for the time difference factor, your episodes will be as current as what your folks backs in India are watching. Although shows are set to East Coast time, all prime time programming will be repeated to suit West Coast time zones. And for the ultra busy there’s always DVR. If you’re thinking of dropping DISH and switching to Comcast, there will be no difference in the timing of the shows as the feeds for both will be the same. Available on HD TV and soon to be available with a choice of subtitles, Comcast offers SONY on channel 249. Currently, Zee is on Channel 246 and TV Asia is on 247. A la carte each of these cost $ 14.99 for SONY and $15.99 each for the other two monthly. A 2 pack combo costs $ 24.99, a 3 pack costs $29.99 and if you throw in Bollywood Hits on Demand to make a 4 pack combo, you’ll pay $39.99 per month. Prices are comparable to DISH and DIRECTV. The DISH network offers 2 channels (SONY & ZEE) for $24.99 and DIRECTV offers 6 Channels (3 Star channels, NDTV, DD India & Cricket Plus) at $29.99. This does not include other fees that need to be paid for minimum programming in addition to these rates. And none of these prices include taxes. (SONY is not currently available via Comcast in Milpitas, Hayward, Sunnyvale and some other areas but will be soon.) For an existing Comcast customer like me one of the combo packs makes eminent sense if I want to take in a few Indian shows without all the extra hassle of setting up satellite in addition to cable. And it definitely would not hurt for my son to be exposed to some level of Indian programming. Something else to talk about with his cousins back home, if nothing else… PHOTO BY SOM SHARMA
The part i am not clear about is why Indians have to pay at all – to comcast to watch all our soaps and songs! You can watch umpteen Spanish channels for free (understandable with 40% plus Spanish speaking people in the Bay area), chinese and tagaluk channels for free…At $99 per month on a minimum decent package, we pay comcast enough money already, dont you think???
I wish it were free too. But think about it – the population of Indian Americans in the Bay is maybe 300,000. The population of Hispanics is over three times that. But more importantly, we are the richest of all the immigrant groups in terms of median income. I guess Comcast and Sony know we can afford it. We are also, I suspect, unwilling to take on the establishment for 30 dollars a month.
Can you see us, as a community, agitating for free programming? We pay for the cleaner, the gardener, the handyman, we’ll pay for this too!
yeah … pay and watch the stupid ads of Ajmeri Baba/Peer Syed Saheb and other goons most of the time.
i am dying to have sony tv and zee tv on comcast i live in 135 trenton road apt b-6 fairless hills pa 19030