After a year of controversy in the official media, on the social networks and even academic spaces, the so-called “weekly packages” continues generating comments, like the saga of many series contained in that “made in Cuba” underground product.
Entering the labyrinth
Those who have no prior information must know that the weekly package is a collection of digital information (currently a terabyte) containing an enormous diversity of products: fiction feature lengths, documentaries, series, miniseries, soap operas, newscasts, music, apps for mobile phones, antivirus, sports, classified ads, and a great deal more. Because of its many features it has been described as “the Internet of the disconnected.” Thus, in a country with a very low rate of connectivity, its wide popularity is logical.
The underground history
It is very difficult to know when the distribution of the package started, but it surely surpasses five years. Initially it offered some 100 gigabytes and kept growing, little by little, to get to the current figure. Neither is the current structure of the distribution its original one.
As a product of the informal market of these times, the weekly package has displayed a great capacity for mutating, adapting to the needs of consumers and to the technology, in keeping with the universe that rapidly moves.
It seems that the “packagers” are produced based on two sources: satellite connection (the popular antenna) and high-speed Internet connection, a privilege of a few. By Sunday they have all got the week’s programming; then the distribution channels come on the scene. The price to enjoy the treat depends on the day of the week in which the product is acquired, but taking into account the abundance of the content, it is cheap: between 1 and 3 CUC.
The package contains a wide-ranging network of services, benefits and occupations that have proliferated under self-employment, such as the sale of burned CDs and the multiple computer services outlets: burning of CDs and DVDs and copying soap operas and series, a service much in demand by those persons who do not have computers or external hard discs to store large amounts of information.
The existence of the package has taken away the protagonist role of “the antenna” because, why wait, day after day, for the endless stories of the soap operas of Univision when in a few days they can be viewed. But it has also taken away pressure from the cable people: now they do their business less worried, they feel less threatened. And their users see more peacefully the rows of “Caso cerrado”: whoever listens from the outside won’t know if the broadcast comes from the antenna or the package.
Criticism, critics and the faithful package receivers
The package has withstood, with luck, the ravages of criticism, the majority badly argued. The most recurrent is that it only contains banality and bad taste. False. Though the “packagers” please the taste of the consumers of banality (what else could they do), in each delivery there are sufficient fiction feature lengths and documentaries to satisfy a public with a demanding aesthetic taste.
We have read and heard opinions about the package – issued by persons from whom rigor and in-depth criticism is expected – that denote lack of knowledge about it. We remind the inquisitors that in the file Films all the films nominated to the last three editions of the Oscar have been offered, as well as the winners of the Berlin, Cannes festivals and the Goya Prizes, for example.
A good area of the opinions about the package is being faced by Cuban television. Another absurdity. No TV station – not even transnational – gets it into their heads to compete with the Internet, and the package is a remedy for it, it is the super thruway of Cuban-style information. While the real on line one gets here, one resolves with this off line Cuban version, a strategy of resistance.
Other opinions are concentrated in the need to educate (the children, the young people, the population) so that they know how to choose, to separate the grain from the hay. But then that is another matter, much more complicated, that concerns the family, the educational system, the cultural institutions, society as a whole.
The main consumers of the package are young people, and we know it, who greatly appreciate being able to see each chapter of “Game of Thrones” just a few hours after it is available on the global network, to cite an example. It would be good to make a survey and ask the young people, why do you prefer the package? What do you see or don’t see in it?
Up to now, the government authorities have not taken action against the package as occurred years ago with the satellite dishes and with some other antenna network, with which they have shown wisdom, a change of position according to the new times. (2015)
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