10 reasons why cable TV makes me grouchy

Published: January 4, 2011

The most annoying thing about TV is that after flipping through all the channels, there’s still nothing to watch.

I love going to the movies and the whole cinematic experience. I love DVDs because one can skip disturbing bits, pause to answer the phone, and there are no commercials. The Internet is also great company where hard-to-find videos and brand new TV shows can be streamed.

I would have loved television, too, if we had TiVo. Regular television lets you down when one’s favourite channels abruptly go off air, only to be replaced with inferior ones (America Plus, E! and MNet, I miss you most of all).

On one occasion, I emailed BBC Drama requesting the schedule for a favourite program that wasn’t listed online. They replied back saying that they don’t even broadcast to Pakistan! (I kicked myself later when it went off air, hoping that I wasn’t the reason for its local demise).

We have close to 100 channels on TV – 100 more reasons to be grouchy. Here are the top 10 reasons, in my irate opinion, that make watching TV a cringe-worthy experience:

10. On-screen ads: Pirated movie channels with half the screen covered with advertisement banners for tuition centres and hair oil.

9. Channel shuffling: Just when you’ve memorised the numbers of the few channels that you watch, your considerate cable provider decides to rearrange their order again (this may be prevented if they started paying their subscription fees once in a while).

8. Annoying music videos:

  • Excessively stylised Asian boy bands singing ballads
  • Endlessly yow-owww-owwwling vocals by Mariah Carey, Christina Aguilera and their American Idol clones
  • Pakistani crooners waving their arms out at Clifton beach to express their love
  • Bollywood lipsynching in PVC clothes with hundreds of Eastern European strippers as extras.

7. Nightmarish cartoon translations:

Dora the Explorer that replaces Spanglish with Hinglish (‘mein hun map, mein hun map’), not to mention Spongebob Squarepants in Hindi/Urdu (fortunately, the title hasn’t been translated into ‘Sponge-Baab Chakor Patloon’).

6. Cookie-cutter Pakistani TV channels:

  • Vociferous news channels racing to disaster sites faster than the police and contaminating crime scenes to capture them on camera.
  • Sponsored cooking channels obliged to use the cooking oil, that provided their production budget, in every recipe.
  • Self-proclaimed spiritual advisory channels anchored by kohl-wearing clerics.
  • Marital-angst-ridden drama channels that inadvertently make people feel better about their own lives.
  • Music channels where female VJs get harassed by desperados on live calls and SMS tickers.
  • Sports channels where all but the official national sport is covered in detail (surprise – it’s hockey).
  • Lollywood movie channels with earth-shattering dance choreography (literally).
  • Punjabi stage-show channels that feature overt comedians exchanging a shouting match with starlets who break into mujra-mode every 10 minutes.
  • Fashion channels going over models’ anatomies in slow-motion as the crux of their programming.
  • Provincial channels that feature more moustachioed tribal men as representing Pakistan than international news channels do.

5.  Urdu family-saga dramas:

Decades after Pakistani drama serials gained acclaim for their script writing and realistic themes, gimmicky features and cross-border ‘borrowing’ have now rendered many of them sentimental tear-jerkers or slapstick comedies with frightening laugh-tracks.

Features include:

  • Houses that are lit up brighter than commercials for house-paint and there’s never any loadshedding
  • Caked-on actors’ makeup which will get even more painful to watch with HDTV.
  • Dialogues that nobody uses in real life and delivered facing away from the other characters.
  • Discrepancies in audio levels from various characters within the same scene (sound check, anyone?).
  • Dubai shopping malls replacing local parks and Chinese restaurants as coveted locations for depicting blossoming romance.

4. Trying-to-be-funky Bollywood movie titles in trailers played around the clock:

From ludicrous Hinglish titles like I Hate Luv Storys, Luv Aaj Kal, Hum Tum Aur Ghost, Chance Pe Dance, Pyaar Impossible!, Meri Life Mein Uski Wife, Love Sex Aur Dhoka to unnecessary extra letters in names like Action Replayy, Toonpur Ka Superrhero, Dabangg, Hissss, Housefull. It’s too sad to even crack a smile.

3. Knorr’s TV jingle:

Where everybody sings “Kkkkaaa-norrrr” instead of “Nore.” One may argue that Germans pronounce it “Ka-nore,” but then, you’d also have to say Ka-nowledge (knowledge) and ka-nife (knife) to prove your point.

2. The abrasively high sound volume of TV commercials:

Why is it that commercials sound considerably louder than regular TV programming? The sudden escalation in the sound jolts one unpleasantly into hitting the mute button or changing the channel altogether.

And, what makes me most grouchy about TV is:

1. The frustration of time wasted that could be better spent writing ridiculous lists like this:

After flipping through channels for over an hour, there’s still nothing worth watching.


Laaleen Khan

An international columnist and media consultant who Tweets @laaleen

The views expressed by the writer and the reader comments do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of The Express Tribune.

  • Saad Durrani

    America Plus is now called OSN Drama I think. Stupid PEMRA removed it all. Someone has to close down all the non-sense News channels.Recommend

  • Daily Show fan

    You forgot “Friends in Punjabi”….. absolute horror….
    Plus, suddenly there’s no osn comedy! Have to download The Daily Show now!Recommend

  • Laaleen

    There’s of course lots of good programming too; I hope that TV producers get encouraged to break out of the mould and create more meaningful experiences for viewersRecommend

  • Laaleen

    Punjabi dubbing in movies and shows are a riot!Recommend

  • Audrey W. Melboune, AU

    I get grouchy because there’s generally nothing good on, and it’s costing a fortune every month. I’m going go with one of the online tv services. I heard that TVDevo.com is good.Recommend

  • Rajat

    Ms. Khan, if you had to nitpick on bollywood on a post titled “10 reasons why cable TV makes me grouchy” then please excuse us, you are under no obligation to see our movies, and just as I have no right to criticise a Norwegian movie (even if i have learnt the language), no matter how horrible it is, you get the point.

    (P.S. Nor do I have a right to criticise, you in your paper, but hey its regarding my country’s film industry.)Recommend

  • http://grsalam.wordpress.com Ghausia

    (fortunately, the title hasn’t been translated into ‘Sponge-Baab Chakor Patloon’).

    Ssshhh don’t give them any ideas! Oh and Dora’s ‘hum ne kia, hum ne kia’ is so annoying!Recommend

  • Laaleen

    @Audrey, I’m sure you have a lot more TV choices than we do, but we have the privilege of pirated DVDs :P
    @Rajat-please don’t be offended, Bollywood is as integral to our culture here in Pk as it is to yours. That’s why our TV, cinema, magazines and even wedding music & dancing are dominated by B’wood. I wasn’t referring to B’wood on the whole, just what’s depicted on our TV channels (round-the-clock movie trailers).

  • http://www.noor-ul-ainhanif.blogspot.com Noor-ul-ain Hanif

    well i just hate the extra dose of ads by cable wala ohhh!! after every 15 mins time checks, property ads ahh!!Recommend

  • Anam Ashraf Ali

    I agree with the PVC dressing! Nice read! summed up everything – yeh and Friends in Punjabi is some weird pleasure to watch! =DRecommend

  • Sana

    I miss MNet!Recommend

  • Farhad

    Spot on. Messing with the order of the channels is really what gets me. I miss the History Channel most!Recommend

  • Laaleen

    Thanks for the feedback, fellow irate viewersRecommend

  • Fizza Hassan

    Since my cable operator removes every channel I like, there’s nothing to watch at all now.. I miss BBC Food. :(Recommend

  • Xena

    Yup, me too. BBC Food, OSNSeries, OSNComedy, OSNMovies….

    I didn’t know PEMRA’d removed these! I just assumed my pathetic operator had, like you said, neglected to pay subscription fees and hence couldn’t access any OSN channels. Because they’ve all vanished and I’m left with the heavily censored MBC and Fox Movies. Ugh.

    Makes me mad. How am I supposed to get my Stewart/Colbert fix? Recommend

  • Karim Javed

    Please someone shut this list of news channels which almost starts from 10 to 30 :S isn’t 2 or 3 channels are enough to get updated. And one thing which i wanna add is absence of sports channels there are football lovers in this country so why only focusing cricket on GEO Super continuously and if you wanna catch the fever of Spanish League or German League then you have to go for Justin.TV or have to surf for hours on Internet to find an appropriate Live Stream for that match. After Continuously stream of cricket they say that we have to start an awareness program in youngsters regarding Soccer, and yes they have tried this but this time with launching GEO Super League on which Camera Men even don’t know that how to cover a soccer match instead a Marriage Movie Maker can cover that well.Recommend

  • Ahsan Ahmed

    I sold my TV because of this. Streaming ftw … thank you internet!

    Whats worst is that if there are any half decent channels left, they dubbed all channels into Hindi, so now instead of watching Mythbusters on Discovery I have to watch something on a dubbed DIscovery going on about shuktryayan, achinkatat blahakat blahachan blahaneyaan which ruin the whole thing. Plus the fact that India uses just 3 people to dubb entire channels … sometimes it sounds like a computer programme.

    And BBC Food … damn I miss it. The local food channels are so darn stupid. Aab haam apko banana sikhaingey blah blah … blah blah … ek call laitey hain … I could make food, eat it and digest it by the time these folks finish their list of ingredients, which has to have a mandatory call in between from someone who cant help praising the cooks and then ask for a recipe that they just dont bother Googling.Recommend

  • http://habloid.wordpress.com Habiba Younis

    hahahahahahaaha, nice one!Recommend

  • Awais

    Who came up with ka-norr? It’s pronounced ‘Knoarr’ ,at least that’s the best way I can spell the pronounciation. Recommend

  • Khan

    Best point, number 2
    Worst point, number 4 (they’re just being catchy – what’s so bad about that?)Recommend