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Are international students switched off when it comes to Australian TV?

Meld Magazine

Tue Jun 18 2013

Has the internet killed TV?

IT’S the end of TV as we know it. Jyethe Wong ponders language subtitles, the internet and piracy, and what it means for international students and their television consumption habits here in Australia. 

As children, we’ve grown up on television. No matter where you came from, if you were a ’90s kid, you would have had your own preferable network of choice. Whether it was Cartoon Network, Disney Channel or even HBO, we were all hooked to the ‘box’. But times have changed.

The language

When we go to a foreign country for the first time and lack the knowledge of the common tongue, processing and understanding what is being said can be very hard.

In Australia, television stations only offer English subtitles for their programmes. But for a country as multicultural as Australia, should the option for alternative languages other than English be considered?

In countries such as as Singapore and Malaysia, it’s common to see subtitles offered in Mandarin, Malay and, in some programs, Tamil.

Online, websites like Subscene now allow people to download movies in a huge variety of languages and subtitles in almost any language. Though currently unavailable in Australia, the popular streaming service, Netflix, allows its viewers to stream high quality content legally and offers several language options.

The internet

Do international students literally switch off when it comes to Australian television? And is it just about language?

Ben, a student from Malaysia, says it more about the internet. His television is used exclusively to watch movies online. He connects his television to his laptop via a HDMI cable and watches from there.

“It’s clearer, I can pause and play whenever I like,” he says.

He doesn’t watch television in Australia, or in Malaysia anymore, for that matter.

“It’s like (having) my own channel; who wouldn’t want that? I don’t have to check the TV guide like back home to see what’s good. I don’t even watch local channels back home in Malaysia anymore,” he says.

Even local students are switching off, it seems. Mark tells me it’s because ‘television’ is far more accessible on the internet.

“It’s simple, fast and it only takes me five minutes to download and configure it so I can watch it without any hassle,” he says.

There was however one exception.

“I think I only watch sports and that’s about it,” he says.

Online piracy

And then, there is piracy. Studies have shown there are 146 million visits a day to websites that host pirated videos to download. That equals approximately 53 billion visits a year.

James, an international student, credits the help of “Uncle Google”, combined with a fast internet connection.

“what more do we need?”  he says.

“I can start downloading a movie and cook my dinner (at the same time) and by the time I’m done cooking, my movie is done.”

With common sentiments such as these being made by many, what does this say about television’s relevancy?

What programmes do you watch on television here in Australia? Is language an issue? Or  is the internet enough to meet all your entertainment needs? Share with us your views in the comments section below.