They’re playing our iTunes

Is it just me or are our already bad TV broadcasts getting even worse?

I’ve mentioned this before but, as a DSTV subscriber, the continual onslaught of repeat programming and house adverts, regurgitated several times every hour, are driving me to distraction. I try not to, but I can’t help feeling slightly murderous when I tune in, to find that The Deadliest Catch, Ice Road Truckers or Orange County Chopper is on. Again!
And, if DSTV is bad, the SABC is even worse.

Over the last couple of months I have again been wondering if it could be viable to rely solely on the Internet for one’s entertainment needs. I’ve had the idea before but, at the price of Internet connectivity then, it didn’t seem practical.Recent developments, including the fact that Telkom is now allowing you more bandwidth for your buck, meant that I started thinking about it again.

I have been giving it a go and I think that I have actually been using my PC more than my television set in recent times. I’ve mostly been listening to podcasts which are basically radio-type shows, and are available free all over the Internet.

I have found that many of them are conveniently collected together in the Apple iTunes store and, from there, you can use iTunes software to subscribe to, and download them for listening. As South Africans, we don’t currently have access to the television shows, movies or songs that are available from the store, but there are a lot of free podcasts available.

I find that the iTunes software, available from, is a robust solution for subscribing to, and downloading podcasts. It tolerates slow and patchy Internet connections and, if it is ever unable to download a particular item, it will try again the next time you run it.

iTunes can also be used to copy the material you’ve downloaded to an iPod music player, so that you can listen to it on the go. I haven’t got an iPod because of the ridiculous prices they go for here, so I can’t comment on how quick or easy the process is.

My iPod-less state is about to change, however, because I happened to mention wanting one when I was last on the phone to the Australian branch of the family. My eldest niece generously offered to send me her old iPod Touch which, she said, still works perfectly, in spite of having been dropped into the toilet. The gizmo that lights up the screen is dead, apparently, but the unit is perfectly usable if there is plenty of daylight around.

I’m looking forward to being able listen to my various podcasts in the car and wherever. Among the ones I subscribe to are several from BBC radio including the Friday Night Comedy Podcast, a half-hour of comedy on topical issues, and the evergreen Desert Island Discs.

Some of the BBC radio shows are distributed in the form of podcasts but many more are available from the BBC Radio website itself, and you can listen to those with the site’s built-in iPlayer. Copyright dictates that many shows are only be available for a week after being broadcast, but I find that’s plenty of time to listen to my favourites.

I also subscribe to a selection of photography and science podcasts on iTunes and that keeps me pretty well entertained. It is such refreshing change to listen to things which appeal to my tastes; not an option when relying on South African broadcasters who really like reality shows and think that the 1990s are the dim and distant past.

As I say, I have been listening to a podcast or Internet radio program or two every day, and although I still haven’t yet cancelled my DSTV subscription, I would do so like a shot if I had the option of just subscribing to a couple of decent sports and news channels.

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