April 7, 2014

F Is for Film & Arts Network

These days, we spend most of the year in South America. And it is pretty cool. However, living outside the U.S. does have its problems, like how do you get your favorite television shows? 

The reason that this is an issue has to do with rights licensing and copyright protection. Most of my friends know that I am a stickler (okay, a total fanatic) about not violating anyone's copyright.

There are many options, some of which involve baroque VPN configurations on your computer, connecting your computer to the television, and streaming live. If you absolutely must watch your favorite shows the very day they are originally broadcast, I can see how this might appeal to you. I thought it was a pain and also made me uncomfortable as it circumvents copyright and licensing laws. Not sure about the Apple TV, Roku and other box systems, but they came in under the "pain in the neck"umbrella.

There is another option, and one that doesn't really cost all that much. Guess what folks  they have cable and satellite television in South America. And they have most of the major shows like Big Bang Theory, Person of Interest, The Blacklist, and Castle. They debut later here than in the U.S., but I'm good with delayed gratification. I'm an adult.

The news feeds are international, too. The most solid English-language options are CNN International, BBC, FOX, and Al-Jazeera (oddly enough, probably the most balanced coverage).

Additionally, for a small amount extra, sports fans can buy an add-on package that allows all the NFL, MLB, and motor sports to be seen live. The latter is the most important for me as I am a NASCAR fan and would have major withdrawal if I couldn't watch the races.

I have DirectTV  the same DirectTV you have in the States. It costs me $43.10 per month, which includes an added sports package and an expansion package. It also includes a DirectTV channel that shows a variety of music concerts, Canadian series like Saving Hope, and the current day's Today show. I do not have an HD-equipped television, so don't need that package. I can choose English as my main broadcast language, which works for about 35 to 40 channels. These are subtitled in Spanish, so I can get a bit of language practice in, too.

But the best reason (other than sports) to have either satellite or cable in South America is the Film & Arts Network from Argentina. Think PBS on steroids, but without the political shows. All the big Brit series and an amazing selection of dance, opera, classical music,jazz, arts-related documentaries, and shows like From the Actors Studio. 

Don't get me wrong. I like it here in Cuenca, Ecuador, but after living in Los Angeles, San Francisco, Portland, and the U.K., the local symphony and bits and pieces of dance and performing arts groups, just does not satisfy my culture vulture soul. Film & Arts makes it workable. Especially now that we are seeing more companies producing live broadcasts to movie theaters and outdoor venues. Once the performances are in the can, networks like Film & Arts can rebroadcast any ol' time.

Cinderella, Birmingham Royal Ballet
So, Friday afternoon is dance, Saturday afternoon is opera. Sunday evening is Downton Abbey. Makes me happy. All is licensed; all is legit re copyright. And it's not available with any of the feeds from the U.S.

For me, this makes the South American Direct TV or TVCable option the best choice.


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