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Saturday, January 23, 2010

Dishing Up The Movies

Last year I described the installation of our satellite dish here in Cairo.  We were aimed at HotBird last year to pick up "European channels."  But that left us without a couple of channels that the locals watch quite a bit.  "What," you might ask, "is missing?"  Fox Movie Channel.  That is surely the number one channel watched in the homes we visit.  Sure, mom might be watching Saudi Koran, but when dad or the boys get hold of the remote the channel is likely to switch over to much more secular fare.

Yesterday, I took on the project of switching our balcony mounted dish over to the Egyptian owned NileSat.  Not too big a project, really.  Communications satellites all hang in a rainbow-like arc across the southern sky.  We simply have to change the azimuth and elevation a bit to swing away from HotBird and over to the NileSat.  A glance at the rest of the dishes in the neighborhood gives a good first guess since most are tuned in to the Egyptian "bird."  I marked the position of the dish on its mounting mast and loosened the bolts.

Our Truman satellite receiver conveniently has a satellite setup screen on the menu page.  It is pre-configured to know a little bit about quite a few of the direct broadcast satellites.  After selecting "Nilsat," I left Linda in front of the TV with one cellphone while I took the other out onto the balcony and began moving the dish.  Linda read off the signal strength to me via the phones.  A couple of minutes later we had a good signal.

Here's the before and after:

After punching the "scan" button on the screen, we had 444 NileSat channels available.  177 are pay channels but that still leaves 267 free ones.

Fox Movie channel is showing Woody Allen in "Hollywood Ending" as we speak.  Last night, Fox Series aired several episodes of The Simpsons.  MTV Arabia is airing Punk'd.  So if you wonder where the typical middle-eastern man gets his view of life in the United State, look no farther than Hollywood.  They're not watching C-SPAN on HotBird. Think "Collateral Damage" - 10:00p.m.

Scanning through the channels for sports and news, I settled on "Saudi 1" for a while to watch the horse races.  Nile Sport, Dubai Sport - there is likely a football game on any time of the day.  And for novelty, (to me at least) you can't beat the camel races on the "Dubai Racing" channel.
The split screen format for the camel races is a little confusing at first.  One camera focuses on the leader and is shown at the top of the screen.  A second camera focuses on the pack.  And I really like the idea of the fans in their SUVs driving alongside to get a good look at the action. 

For news and the markets we've got Bloomberg, Al Jazeera International, Euro News and CNN.  FoxNews and MSNBC are pay channels.

If you are interested in a specific country, there are channels labeled Jordan, Sudan, Oman, Bahrain, Kuwait and Palestine.  Lebanon was offering a cooking show this afternoon.

Among the pay channel lineup you can find this series:  MTV, FOX SPORT, amateur Babes and KNESSET.  "amateur Babes?"  Who knew? 

I marked the position of the dish on the mast so I can find my way back to HotBird, if necessary - say, on SuperBowl night.

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