In Finland, there's a TV program called "Toisten TV" ("the TV of the Other
People") - a two-hour show where they show TV programs from around the
world, subtitled in Finnish. Some of the shows are funny, some are
serious, some are just wacky. The idea is great - I can say that the
program is highly interesting, but it has a couple of problems: It's
only two hours a week (sometimes it's too little, sometimes too much)
and I can't pick what I want to watch!
The idea is nice enough, though, nevertheless. The fact that we see
something every week from outside of our borders, outside of the
"western civilization", and so on, is always enlightening.
I have recently noticed how ridiculously easy it is to subtitle
programs using Sub
Station Alpha. I was thinking of subtitling some of the episodes
of Finnish programs (that are definitely not seen outside
Finland) and putting them up for download.
Of course, no one would come to get it. No one outside the country
would have heard of it.
I had something bigger in dreams: A place to exchange international TV content - a simple solution to finding foreign TV programs: "Hey, I heard people from country X talking about TV program Y. Have you seen such things?" or "Any suggestions for comedy series from place Z?" or such..
The Internet is global, while the TVs are limited to the broadcasting
area. With the P2P networks, a large number of people who rip and
subtitle, and some sort of indexing system, it would be possible to
build the global "TV of the Other People".
Is there any problems with this? The first problem is that it may not
work because no one is really interested, and people
don't know where to look from. Everyone in the P2P
networks circulate the same "mainstream" programs that are shown on
television everywhere in the world.
The same has already been visible in music exchange networks:
People want internationally known music, and music from their locally
known bands, and nothing more - unless they are motivated to really
look for "obscure" content or if they hear of it from others. The
current P2P systems don't encourage the exchange of "obscure"
content any way; the "obscure" content stays hidden until specifically
requested, and can't be found without some serious effort.
The only "advertising" channel at the moment so far is the word of
mouth and separate websites, which is, of course, hideously
Of course, there is also the
problem of copyrights (not to say that current networks would be any
better) - the content producers may or may not be delighted to hear
their works are being distributed elsewhere in the world.
And would the people be interested to see the content? Do people
really even think of finding the obscure content? During the
big media war of Napster, people said Napster helped them find obscure
music - but I still have some serious problems finding "less than
mainstream" content from major P2P networks. Is there a way to make
And would there be enough people to make the content available?
Capturing and subtitling a TV program takes some time (for
uninitiated, a hour of work per 15 minutes of program, I
noticed). Would the technical limits make this not work?
So, if we ignore the legal problems - the idea may be decent, the
goals of cultural convergence are noble enough, but would this
idea fly at all?
Some sort of system like this would definitely be needed - what use is
"promotion of cultural convergence" argument of P2P networks if the
only things people swap are American music and TV series?
My own prediction is that the TV "napsterization" will not be bright; instead of cultural convergence we just have another channel to see the same old stuff we usually watch and nothing else, people won't even try to find or distribute "obscure" content, and the content owners don't like this idea at all.