Singapore Might Be Losing A Wonderful Educational Resource But The New Alternatives Are A Lot Better
Update: We are aware that Discovery’s channels will still be airing on SingTel’s pay-TV services. The original article has been amended to reflect this better.
For kids of the 90s, this icon on the top right-hand corner of your TV screen meant one thing: it was discovery time.
Whether it was about the gaseous giants of our solar system or the creatures hidden away deep under the sea, the Discovery Channel was our gateway to the world outside Singapore.
Because the Internet was in its nascent stages then, most of us spent far more time offline than online.
Gathering information meant either a trip to the library or turning on the TV (to SCV channel 12, more specifically).
20 years of the World Wide Web have changed our patterns and more of us turn to Google now than we do Discovery.
Which could be why the American TV network is facing a troubled future in Singapore.
Discovering trouble in paradise
Mumbrella reports that the American broadcast giant is preparing to pull all its content from StarHub TV.
That’s because of a disagreement over pricing for Discovery’s content.
This isn’t limited to just Discovery Channel: other channels under the Discovery umbrella include Animal Planet, TLC, Discovery Science, Discovery Asia and Eurosport.
Its content is also streamed on StarHub Go, the telco’s answer to Netflix.
The two parties have agreed to a 30 June deadline to sort out their disagreements, which are basically over how much Singaporeans should pay for Discovery’s content.
In a statement, Discovery said,
All we are asking for is the equivalent of a cup of coffee per customer per month.
Depending on whether Discovery SEA chief Shavkat Berdiev drinks kopi-o kosong or a flat white, that could range between $0.80 and $6.50.
StarHub respodned to queries from The Straits Times, saying that it would do all that it could to provide the same content “at a reasonable price“.
Will Discovery actually be missed?
Although I gushed my love for Discovery Channel at the start of this piece, I admit that it’s nothing more than nostalgia; a sweet imagination of the past.
Because at the end of the day, I don’t watch Discovery content anymore.
After all, it’s television content, which is much more strictly regulated here than online content.
That means it’s unlikely that Dr PJ Thum’s shocking allegations about the People’s Action Party’s role in the Hock Lee bus riots will ever make it to a documentary.
It’s far likelier that his views will be aired in a film like To Singapore, With Love, which I’d rather support.
So, Mr Berdiev – I’d much rather spend a coffee’s worth on projects like that, if that’s okay with you.
Discovery’s loss won’t be felt
And it appears that I’m not the only one who won’t miss Discovery.
Audiences in Singapore have largely turned away from pay-TV, in line with global trends.
ST reports that in 2016, StarHub lost 35,000 of its pay-TV subscribers.
And some of Discovery’s content – including the wildly popular MythBusters – is already on Netflix.
Rival SingTel also airs several channels from the Discovery umbrella.
So it’s not exactly a big loss to our entertainment options if it ceases to operate here.
What’s hurt more – or the most – is that Discovery’s apparent death reminds us of how old we’re getting.
After all, it’s only the latest death in a string of icons that defined the average Singaporean childhood of the ’80s and ’90s.
From Growing Up to non-airconditioned buses, they’re not coming back anymore.
And neither is this:
We might pine for the golden days but I don’t see anyone craving for this screen to greet us every time we turn on the TV.
So, Channel 12: so long and may you rest in peace.
Featured image from WordPress.