RFE/RL correspondent Daisy Sindelar and multimedia producer Margot Buff are exploring Mongolia for a week. -- Eds.
Nothing to do in Ulan Bator?
Turn on the radio. They’ve got 34 FM stations alone.
Prefer reading? There are a dozen daily newspapers to choose from.
Or maybe you just want to settle down in front of the TV. The Mongolian capital has 11 free-access channels (not to mention innumerable cable and satellite options).
A quick glance at the small-screen fare says a lot about the Mongolian mindset.
Four out of the 11 channels on a recent afternoon were broadcasting wrestling. With the Grand Sumo tournament winding down to its nail-biting final days in Japan, all eyes are on Asashoryu, the solidly built yokozuna champion leading the pack of Mongolian wrestlers now dominating this decidedly Japanese sport.
(“Ours are less fat, more muscle” said one fan, explaining the Mongolians’ success.)
Wrestling not to your taste? There was also a U.S.-sponsored Christian broadcasting station featuring violent-ish allegorical dramas, Sean Connery speaking Mongolian, a news report on holistic health, Pingu the ubiquitous claymation penguin, and two teen-targeting channels with screens subdivided into music videos, classified ads, and live chat rooms. Good stuff.
If TV had been around in the 13th century, Genghis Khan might have just stayed home.
-- Daisy Sindelar