Much Ado About Nothing

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With much fanfare they announced at noon on January 17, a “major” television event to be held that night about “changes in Cuban television programming.” I waited, caught between disbelief and hope, because sometimes it’s nice when they surprise us with the unexpected, but this time it was not. As a group of my children’s friends who were here at the time said: “so much jawboning (chatter) for over half an hour, just to increase — this time, substantially — the live broadcasts of the TeleSUR TV.”

The rest went to “shuffling” the coordinates of the TV because they have so few programs. They changed the channels of some of the domestic programs as if doing so would improve the transmissions in general. It’s like moving the furniture around to get the idea that you have more space and comfort.

For the first time we saw on camera the faces of the “gurus” or directors of the five national television channels. I can not understand why so many masters and graduates are needed to run television of such poor quality. I think anyone can do it, because if we compare it with what we had pre-1959, almost none of the directors of that broadcast mass medium completed college and yet everything worked efficiently. Why not now?

We know public opinion is of no interest to these entities, nor is it of any interest to the government, which only relies on it to ratify with a vote — in order to legitimize their management to the outside — what they planned and decided, although repeatedly, for decades, they have failed. Change happens when the Nomenklatura decides, in a clear contempt for the popular will. So the excuse appearing in the written press that the changes in television programming must respond “to the requests and interests of the audience” is a fallacy.

The “exchange” of greater importance is the live broadcast of Telesur, of which previously we were allowed  only a few hours — not live — in the evening and now, after nearly eight years of its existence and with our society contributing to its financing with a “generous” government grant, they will grant us more than 13 hours a day. Wouldn’t it have been better to have enabled a new channel for this multinational television? They’re continuing to beat a dead horse and everyone knows it. This had influenced the production of Cuban TV programs of lower and lower quality, rejected by the citizens, who are ultimately those who consume them.

People welcome the additional Telesur broadcast hours on Cuban television, but not with much enthusiasm because clearly this society is already saturated with 50 years of political propaganda, long speeches, and the endless appearances of the caudillos on our screens, something the South American continent has now been experiencing for a little while.

Perhaps another of the objectives was to “shake a stick” at the press, which is already on the defensive and not about to break its own behavioral blockade — perhaps for fear of losing their perks — for which they are not entirely responsible and because they suspect or suppose — it’s understandable — that in Cuba media freedom could be “a stethoscope to their ideological health, or in the press editing room.”

When will they be able to address these topics objectively? I imagine that none of the “boys” of the official press want to take the first step. It’s natural that after 54 years of restricted freedoms, there is resistance to change — due to accumulated helplessness — in the producers, the writers and the entire terrain of Cuban citizens. Now the authorities pass to our media professionals the responsibility for the lack of information transparency in their spaces, and the über-partisanship of the same. And so they pay for their unconditional fealty.

Many of us now receive from the television of the south a great amount of news and information in real-time that before we got in doses from the national media system, including the taking of two cities in northern Mali by French troops, the military solution to the hostage crisis at the gas plant in Algeria, the fact that Ecuador exceeds ten million internet users for the first time, and for the first time ever many of us heard live the inauguration speech of a president of the United States.

The speed with which the government is moving its “reformist threads” gives rise to concerns and suspicions in a society that knows the dictatorship has declared that, “this is for more socialism.” And so “these metamorphoses” that are undertaken and envisioned on the sociopolitical Cuban horizon, are more for convenience and survival of the regime than for a real transition to a better future for our nation.

January 22 2013

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