14ymedio, Luz Escobar, 29 September 2016 – Two young men wait on the centrally located corner of San Lazaro and San Francisco in Havana, at the door of the private business Copypack. They have in hand a hard disk to get the ‘Weekly Packet’ without knowing that through this compendium of audiovisuals a discrete battle is being fought to monopolize the public’s preferences. Who chooses the compilation called Omega and who chooses Odyssey? That is the question.
With names from the epics, which seem straight out of video games and science fiction movies, the two great parent companies of this singular television alternative are trying to capture audience. They are the germ of the channels that the island’s TV viewers will enjoy in the future, without sneaking around or standing in line to make copies to take home.
“I realized that my ‘packet’ was Odyssey because I asked for some copies of Q’Manía TV and they told me that that material only came out on Omega,” said one of the customers waiting on the sidewalk. “I was surprised, because I had no idea of those details,” he said.
The two productions houses that copy, organize and distribute around one terabyte of material every week started offering movies, series, and foreign magazines, but they have been expanding and shaping their own content. While Omega is betting more on series delivered episode by episode, Odyssey is “best for finding music and videoclips,” say their followers.
Full Copy is a business with two locations in Havana, one in Vedado and another in Lawton, that offers the Omega packet every day from 7 in the morning, or a courier will bring it to your house for 1 Cuban Convertible peso. “Every week we sell more than a thousand copies,” says Javier, an employee.
The director and producer Rolando Lorenzo, who heads one of the leading programs in the Weekly Packet, explains that when he got the first deliveries of his production ready, dedicated to promoting the history of show business and advertising private businesses, the Omega managers gave him an “exclusive” space without paying “a single centavo.”
Entrepreneurial by nature, Lorenzo appreciated the gesture that helped him when his project was just starting out. The producer believes that “quality leads to power” and his program will help Omega develop even more and of course he pushes for Q Manía TV to grow its audience.
The director says that Omega “has its privileges” and proudly says that his program is available “in many places in the packet because it is in several folders,” especially in the first one, organized alphabetically, something that he calls “a luxury” and he pushes to keep his commitment to quality.
On 26th Street, in Havana’s Plaza of the Revolution municipality, is one of the most important places in the capital for the distribution of the Weekly Packet from Odyssey. Its employees explain to 14ymedio the “daily update,” unlike Omega, along with the variety of music and TV series.
“The real difference is in Odyssey’s musical selection,” says a young messenger who is responsible for distributing both packets on his bicycle and he says that “both have daily updates.” Laughing, he says that both firms behave like “Coca Cola and Pepsi Cola, which are more similar than they want to acknowledge in public.”
Odyssey is managed by Abdel, “The Essence,” a very well-known music producer on the island. Thanks to its wide selection, many of the artists that can’t show their videoclips on the popular TV show Lucas, thanks to censorship, find a space on this audiovisual compendium. The young man doesn’t hesitate to assert that in his hands is “the best Packet of the week.”
However, Omega is no slouch and recently has created alliances with musical promoters like Eje Record or Crazy Boys to expand its variety of songs, soundtracks and videos with national singers.
Both parent companies have evolved in content distribution toward the advertising business. From the work of an artist who is just starting out, to reports focused on private businesses, the private sector determines more and more the content of the Weekly Packet.
In a country where only ideological propaganda is permitted, promoted and disseminated by the government on national television, alternative networks of distribution have filled the commercial spaces that are missing on the small screen.
Elio Hector Lopez, “The Transporter,” known for being one of the managers of the Weekly Packet, announced some months ago his intentions to mutate his company toward advertising, and recognizes the need to evolve in this sense of be able to survive in the future.
The producers who manage the Weekly Packet have a view of the future and dream that their compilation of audiovisuals will shape morning television.