Tuesday, June 19, 2007

TV or Not TV

Free-to-air television sucks, we all know that, especially here in Tasmania where we only have 4 stations. In these days of Pay TV, video and DVD, online movie and TV channels, etc, the only programs that the free-to-air stations can afford are the cheap or old ones, with a sprinkle of newish popular stuff just to keep the viewers from turning off completely. We can't expect quality, so surely we should at least be able to expect quantity...

There are laws governing what can be shown on TV, how much of the airtime can be advertisements, etc. But those laws are obviously ignored. Take, for example, the program I recorded with my Miglia TVMax last Saturday, mid afternoon timeslot, the classic "How the West Was Won". You can see from the screenshot that the total length of the program was 194 minutes, and that when I marked the adverts to be cut out, it reduced the running time to 137 minutes. That's 70% program, 30% adverts, or if you prefer, one minute of advert for every 2 minutes of actual program. In amongst a total of 137 minutes of content, WIN TV managed to squeeze 57 minutes of advertising, and that's in a low-view timeslot. In primetime, the ratio of adverts to actual content sometimes runs close to 50%, I suspect.

The practice is self-defeating. In a bid to squeeze more out of the budget, the stations are forcing viewers to switch away from them in droves. This means the advertisers are getting less and less value for their money, which means the TV stations need to put even more adverts into every hour of TV to pay the bills. It won't be too many years, I suspect, before TV channels in Tasmania close completely, a victim of their own shortsightedness.

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