Are you itching to pay for pay TV? Curious, perhaps, to know how many
viewers had signed on by the time Australia's first 24-hour movie channels
opened on Friday with Sylvester Stallone at the end of his rope in the Rockies?
Don't ask the supplier, Galaxy. You won't get a dicky-bird out of them. Not a
Not yet, anyway.
Guesswork offers something akin to those packets of breakfast cereal on the
cash cow channels. Not too many, not too few, but just right for starters.
One source of information, a visitor to the Galaxy offices in the Australis
complex in Pyrmont, reports seeing a wall chart indicating installations ($299
connection, $49.95 a month, bonus offers for early takers, no positive promise
of West Indies cricket) with a graph line running above marked expectations for
Sydney and Melbourne running slightly below.
This may be misleading. The chart appeared to lack any sense of scale,
putting accurate assessment out of bounds.
Full-page ads everywhere brought a rush of inquiries, but Galaxy always
offered modest expectations of early sales. As the full 10-channel service is
not yet up and running, subscribers still rank in the pioneer class.
In addition to its sports network, already operating, Galaxy trebled the
choice on Friday when Showtime, a premium movie channel, and Encore, a movie
favourites channel, got under way. The first batch of 31 Showtime movies include
the Sly Stallone romp, Cliffhanger, A Few Good Men, Bram Stoker's Dracula,
Scent of a Woman, Indecent Proposal, Far and Away and Lorenzo's Oil.
Encore has 48 titles in its first month's list, including The Birds, The Man
Who Knew Too Much, Beverly Hills Cop, The Running Man, Moscow on the Hudson and
the director's cut of Lawrence of Arabia.
Next on pay will be TV1, an entertainment channel with such TV treats as
Taxi, All in the Family, I Love Lucy, Laverne and Shirley, The Honeymooners,
Sergeant Bilko and Miami Vice.
Meanwhile, the program-rich supplier XYZ Entertainment, pay TV's quiet
achiever, is limbering up with four channels for the A Licence holder. These are
intended for distribution as part of the Galaxy package.
A children's channel is ready to go, while XYZ yesterday announced that it
had signed Ian Kiernan, chairman of Clean Up Australia, and Mimi Macpherson,
younger sister of Elle Macpherson, as hosts for its documentary channel, Quest.
Quest manager, Deborah Stewart, is a New York born documentary maker and
journalist who has worked with The 7.30 Report, 60 Minutes and the Fox Network
in the US.
Ms Stewart says the 24-hour Quest service will be educational, entertaining
and wide-ranging in its scope.