I was thinking today about my Christmas 2007 trip to Poland. As a media scholar for the last nineteen years, it was interesting to see the modern Eastern European media culture. First, the structure of television: Poland and most European countries are primarily government-run stations. Poland had two national channels and one local channel. The main town I was visiting was Lublin, which was a big enough city that the television station was located in Lublin. I was able to walk by the studios during my tour of the city.
The content of the government-run stations was something like: Channel 1 – entertainment and variet programming; Channel 2 – News and documentary programming; and then there was Channel 3, the local programming which was a variety of genres including local news, much as a local station here in the states would offer. In the newscasts they have a vigorous offering of global news. In fact, I was surprised that while I was in Lublin there was a story about a station that I worked with in Chicago – a car attempted to run through the window of the new street-level studio. The story from Chicago showed up on Lublin television. What a surprise!
I also noticed programs of traditional holiday music (it was Christmastime during this visit), movies, lots of news, as well as game shows as popular fare. The daily range of programming was about the same as in the US. A trained viewer would notice that the graphics/effects were not as slick as in the US, and the presentation was much more influenced by the style of the BBC than the style of the American networks, but the content was quite good.
In addition to the terrestrial stations, there is a vibrant offering of satellite stations. All of Europe is covered by satellite offerings and Poland is no different. A number of packages are available. The television that I watched had CNN English in its package available 24 hours, so I did not feel alone or disconnected. The numbers of channels are not as prolific as in the US yet – my satellite service has 250+ channels here, but rather it seemed that something in the double digits (ie 20 to 80 channels) was typical for a multi-channel video provider.
All-in-all my stay in Poland was wonderful and the chance to do some comparative media study was a terrific opportunity.