I am still reeling from the news government wants MultiChoice to make cut-price programming available to the South African Broadcorping Castration so more of the masses can watch international sport without paying anything except their TV licences, which they don’t pay anyway.
Even more eye-wateringly presumptuous is the expectation that watching TV is a human right. Which, if it is, then why isn’t owning a Porsche 918 a human right? Or a beach house in Hermanus?
I have been so moved by this brazen air of entitlement that I feel obliged to once again publish my letter to the Mrs Grundies in this country…
“Dear Mrs Grundy,
You really are the most miserable person I know, with the exception perhaps of a fellow called Arthur, with whom I occasionally get suckered into partnering at golf and who spends 18 holes whining about everything under the sun and never giving me a putt even if my ball is hanging on to the edge of the hole by three dimples and a piece of logo.
Is there nothing about television that you like, Mrs Grundy? You seem watch an awful lot of programmes with consummate dedication to hate them in such graphic detail.
Come on now, you must admit that the telly has improved by a little bit more than a half-hearted leap and token bound in the past few years. At least now we have a choice, unlike the early days.
Back then, in 1975, thousands of television-starved South Africans would sit in front of their screens for hours every night watching the test pattern. Adults used to congregate around the tea urn at the office discussing the technical intricacies of tests patterns and comparing notes on colour definition. Children at school used to be able to recite tests patterns off by heart at big break.
And then the big day arrived when a boxing match replaced the test pattern. What a thrill! Even people who belonged to anti-blood sports associations watched every second of that fight.
And when it was over all too quickly, South Africa’s newfound television junkies were so hyped up with the adrenalin rush of their first real television show they stayed up until dawn watching that old familiar test pattern.
Even today, I get quite embarrassed when my kids get up early in the morning and find me sitting quietly in the lounge sipping a cup of coffee and chatting fondly to some or other test pattern.
Remember when we only had one channel and every second programme used to be an underwater documentary? Remember when the news was nothing more than those incredibly biased radio bulletins with pictures?
When, at the stroke of eight the SABC logo – a sort of vierkleur lavatory seat – would flash on to the screen and we’d have to endure something like, “A train was derailed between Rayton and Cullinan last night and police cannot confirm whether it was an accident or sabotage. A Bantu, however, has been detained. A prizewinning butternut belonging to a Craddock farmer, Mr Hannes De Jager, was stolen from the local agricultural show yesterday. A Bantu has been detained.
“And in Christchurch, New Zealand, earlier today, the All Blacks beat the Springboks nine points to three. Several Bantu have been detained…”
Those were the days, Mrs Grundy, when there was no sport on Sundays, no shopping on Sundays, no movies on Sundays. There was sod-all to do on Sundays except detain a Bantu or two. And for those of us who had an aversion to persecuting Bantu, Sundays were deadly boring to say the least.
And then, when some heretics in government did risk getting whacked by a bolt of lightning from heaven by allowing sport to be played on Sunday and even shown on television, we had to put up with frustrations that could only have been conceived in the minds of diehard jukskei-fixated broadcasting bureaucrats.
Remember when we sat through four hours of a Wimbledon final, when at the most exciting part of it all, just before one or other contestant gained the ultimate upper hand, it would be back to the studio in Johannesburg and, “Well that’s all the time we have for tennis today, now stay tuned for episode 435 of Lewe Onder Die See…”
Come now, Mrs Grundy, even you have to admit that television has taken a mighty stride forward since the days of perpetual submersion and incarcerated Bantu.
And relatively speaking, today’s television is bargain basement stuff when you think about it. Your annual subscription costs about roughly the price of a ticket to a first class game of soccer in the UK.
There’s something for everybody and best of all Mrs Grundy, there’s even a channel specially designed for you to sit in front of and bitch away to your heart’s content. It’s the parliamentary channel on DStv; trust me, you’ll love it.
You can spend the whole day watching former detainees argue with former detainers about exciting things like points of order and whether the members dining room should be subsidised or not.
As usual, kind regards and up yours,
Follow Chris Moerdyk on Twitter @chrismoerdyk