Like all European countries, Slovakia saw a rapid increase in number of television channels since the early 1990s. Satellite dishes were prohibited under communism and their introduction in the market led to a real rush once they did become available. In the following years, the deployment of cable networks made satellite dishes redundant. The same is now happening to TV itself: internet is taking over.
The generation who is now between 20 and 30 years old grew up with the strictly limited television offer that was usual across the communist world. Tomas (27) remembers how there was strictly no violence in children`s TV programs of that time. `We had a program about a wolf and a rabbit, which was slightly similar to Roadrunner, but without any explosives. The most socially unacceptable thing I have seen in that program was that the wolf was once smoking a cigarette. Then we had Filmarik and Filmuska, Matelko and Kuko which were all marionette programs with a slight moralistic undertone.
``A je to` brings back nice memories of when I was a kid`
Now and then
Katka (19, photo) remembers watching A je to, Pat a Mat when she was younger. This Czechoslovakian animated TV program about two handymen has been broadcast in many countries across the world, including The Netherlands (Buurman en Buurman), Iran (Hamineh & hamooneh), Great Britain (and that's it!, Pat and Mat) and Brazil (Zeja e Joca). Katka adds: `Nowadays, I am more likely to watch the news on TV5. I went to a French-speaking college and hope to study in France in a year from now. I love French and the French way of thinking. I love how they can have these all-blocking manifestations and how much they believe in their own capability to influence their future.`
Katka also likes to watch X-change, which shows how women are restyled. `The result is often astonishing, but part of that is simply because they always take the `before` photographs when the women have just got out of bed and are not wearing any make up`, Katka explains. `When I am bored, I sometimes watch one of the soap operas that Slovak TV channels imported from Latin America. It`s called Esmeralda and it`s pretty much about nothing. Easy entertainment which is comprehensible for everyone. The names of the characters of such programs are often used as first names for newborns in the lower social classes. They don`t always know exactly how to spell the name, which explains why we have many young girls in Slovakia that are named Dzesika instead of Jessica.`
Even though she barely ever watches soap operas, Jana (28) knows the names of some more examples of Latin American import programs. She mentions `Naughty angel` and `Simply Mary` as examples. `They are all dubbed in Czech or Slovak. Subtitles are becoming more and more popular for productions from other countries, but the soap series have so far been excluded from this trend.`
Jana cares to tell me that reality shows never became very popular in Slovakia. `We had Big Brother for one year. It was broadcast at prime time, but nevertheless produced a big failure. Slovaks were simply not interested. We had no reality shows and all of a sudden we had many. I guess there were just too many at the same time. Only one Slovak real life production managed to attract some audience. Vivoleny, which was similar to Big Brother but without any tasks or competition. Just people living in a house together and nothing more than that. I guess Slovak people care more about their own problems that about other people artificially creating trouble. Progams featuring singing and dancing competitions are more successful and the presenters of these programs have quickly become very popular.
Katarina (21) is one out of many people who would rather give up her TV than her internet connection. Many programs in Slovakia are available on-line, while downloading or buying DVDs is the best way to go for people who want to see popular American series like `Sex and the City`, `Friends`, CSI, `House` and the Simpsons, which are by the way called `Simsonovci` in Slovakia. Martina (21) thinks that children and people older that 30 are the biggest remaining consumers of TV programs. Many people who work simply switch their TVs on when they get home and use it as background noise with everything they will do for the rest of the evening. Young people have to study and they spend more time using the internet than watching TV.`
Michal (21) likes to watch Discovery to see his favourite program `A car is born`, about a guy who buys cheap old cars and pimps them in the way he likes: `I sometimes download episodes of The Simpsons or Family Guy. On the internet, I often visit Pokec.sk, a website with different chat windows. Many people use it to meet new friends as they can simply talk to anybody who is logged in to the site.`
During today`s interviews, I also learn that many young Slovak people use Youtube. Profile websites are not particularly popular, except among young people who have spent some time abroad. Unaware of cheaper options for calls out of the network, many Slovaks use Skype to make internet call. The most commonly used instant messaging is ICQ instead of Yahoo or MSN Messenger. Many Slovaks start their internet navigations via portal websites like centrum.sk and azet.sk, or news websites like dnes.sk, zoznam.sk or novycas.sk.
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