Thursday, December 03, 2009

Let's Make All TV "Pay For View"

I no longer want 'free' TV. I think what's pawned off as free simply costs too much. It's essentially worthless but it costs me too much and it costs my society far too much.

If there's something on CBC, CTV or Global that I really want to see, let me pay for it. If there isn't, let them find someone else to buy it.

I don't watch much Canadian network television or, for that matter, the American nets either. That's because most of the shows they offer are drivel or simply re-runs of some quality HBO series that I saw at least twice on pay TV a year or two earlier. The last thing I need to see on Canadian TV channels is crap American reality show programming - American Idol, Survivor, Bridezilla, So You Think You Can Dance, Big Brother... the list goes on.

There are some shows, such as The Fifth Estate, that I do watch but I'll happily pay for those.

Canadian television news isn't bad, it's awful. It's misleading, it's biased, it's inaccurate, it's incomplete - utter crap and, sadly, that goes for CBC too. I didn't come to this opinion recently. The crushing truth of this came to me more than 35-years back when I "moved up" from a radio newsroom to a CBC television newsroom. That's when I learned the brutal reality of "infoTainment" news. Shit, garbage, crap, nonsense. If news to you means actual information, you're going to have to work for it, you're going to have to read it. If you want to look at pictures, get a comic book - that's far more reliable and honest.

Canadian network TV doesn't even put out good porn. Compared to what's on the internet who wants to watch a clapped out, hack reporter blow the prime minister for a senate seat?

Most of the programming I do watch I already pay for anyway. The History Channel, Documentary Channel, Discovery Channel, movie channels, PBS, BBC, that sort of thing. My TV world begins around channel 24 and I rarely delve below that. If I do want to go into the broadcasting bargain basement I'll happily pay for access when and as.

Here's the kicker. Imagine a world in which CBC, CTV and Global actually had to produce programming good enough that people would willingly subscribe to it. Do you think those networks would remotely resemble what they look like today? Of course not because then they'd be in a different business altogether. They'd be in the business of delivering something you actually wanted to buy. They would have to ditch every piece of crap that people now watch because it's there, it's free and "there's nothing on TV" anyway. Why should we have to put up with a menu where the main ingredient in every dish is crap just because they get a special deal on crap from the American networks?

In case you're wondering, this current rant is fueled by the war now underway between Canadian broadcasters and the Canadian cable industry over filching an extra $10 a month from cable subscribers to make it more lucrative than ever for Canadian networks to spoonfeed us crap American reality shows. If they can't hawk that shit free, they've got a damned nerve coming to me with their hands out. Americans don't have to pay for their crap, they get it free. Why should Canadians have to pay a premium so Canadian broadcasters can give them the very same crap? I just don't get it.


Anonymous said...

Rather simplistic, no?

I'm not going to get into who is more greedy (they both seem).

Paying for quality? Good luck... Why do you think we end up with crappy reality shows and the supernatural/police dramas?

Even if you could get a pay for view, you'd end up with crappy commercial for 1/4 of the broadcast...
Just look at movies... you pay 12$ and get bombarded with previews for other crappy movies plus commercials...

LeDaro said...

Hey man, speak for yourself. I love
American Idol, Survivor and Big Brother. They reveal a lot about human nature.

On the other hand I cannot stand fiction including movies. I will never pay for movie channel.

As for greediness and rest I agree with C_WTF.

The Mound of Sound said...

Gee LD, I thought I was speaking for myself. You think those shows "reveal a lot about human nature"? They certainly reveal how human nature can be manipulated into a freak show. How can you claim not to like fiction when you love those shows? They're fiction with really bad actors. LD, I think you need to hit the "reset" button.

The Mound of Sound said...

Oh yeah, CWTF - I don't think my argument is simplistic although I do think the desired result is plainly unrealistic. Nothing is going to change, especially if the Canadian nets get a pipeline into cable viewers' wallets.

LeDaro said...

MoS, everybody is to his own. The raw actors reveal a lot more about human nature than sanitized actors in fictional movies.

Anonymous said...

You think those shows "reveal a lot about human nature"? They certainly reveal how human nature can be manipulated into a freak show.
It's funny how when a star appears on Oprah with tales of sexual abuse or whatever and they get applauded for their honesty... The same problem on Springer and people call it a freak show...
As far as I'm concerned both are the same.

I thought the argument put forth about some kind of carriage fee, not the quality of television.

England has a TV tax and that does not guarantee quality...

LeDaro, there is nothing wrong with the shows you mention. I don't like 2/3 of them (I will watch Survivor)... so I don't watch them.

LeDaro said...

C_WTF, you make good points.

For me the difference between movies and reality shows (not all of them because some terribly suck including Springer) is Ronald Reagan reading from a teleprompter and another politician speaking from heart. Now teleprompter has become a norm than exception for political leaders just like rest of the actors.

LeDaro said...

I should add that Hollywood is much better equipped and financed to advertise their product as opposed to reality shows. Thus they get lot more viewers. People grow up watching ads about Hollywood this and Hollywood that.

Jingles said...

I agree with MOS. Here I am sitting in Southern Alberta with cable TV where I couldn't get the stations I wanted in one list. The channels I want are listed on this set or that set of programming. I had to take all three in order to get what I wanted. In the number one program list, I have Survivor on three channels at the same time...can't get around stupid. I was not able to ask for the stations I wanted which are CBC, CTV, BBC, The History Channel and TCM. I'd rather pay for what I want rather than have to have all that other tripe which I don't watch nor have the time to watch. So....the way around it, is to use your computer and hook it up to the television watching what a person wants to view and also catch the news from around the world.

The Mound of Sound said...

Actually CWTF, I haven't watched English TV for decades. When I did live there (back when all the Beatles were still alive) I was struck by the excellent quality of BBC programming.

Of course back then North American television programming was also of a higher calibre than it is today. That was prior to the "reality television" invasion that James Wolcott points out has brought culture back to the pre-literacy era.

The argument is about fee for carriage but surely from the payor's perspective what is received for that proposed levy is fully relevant.

We're talking about Canadian networks that feed us the same crap shows that Americans get for free wanting the government to let them get into our pockets for the privilege of that.

Television has always served a variety of functions but only recently has it become a very powerful vehicle for dumbing down society. And I'm sorry LD but people who believe they're getting insights into human nature by watching those shows are genuinely dumbed down.

There are endless places to actually learn about human nature. Reality shows are just about the worst of the lot although they do brush up one's skills in voyeurism.

LeDaro said...

MoS, you’re quite knowledgeable on geopolitical situation and I have learned a lot from you on Afghanistan, Pakistan and Iraq. That seems to be your area of expertise. Trust me human behaviour is not your area of expertise as it is very clear from your numerous comments. So stop being myopic and expect that what you understand others should have the same understanding and that is the only reality.

All I can tell you that I have been student of human behaviour for many years now and besides reading other researcher’s work and many scholars, watching society on daily basis contributes to that knowledge but movies are not one of those sources. Many of my fellow sociologists will agree with me.

As far voyeurism is concerned there is noting voyeuristic on Survivor and Big Brother. There is a lot more nudity and sex on fictional movies than on these two reality shows. I know what garbage comes of Hollywood and how much that consists of sexually explicit stuff. All one has to do is to look at the listings. In these reality shows there is a prize of $1milion and $500,000 and to win that the greed takes over and greed is a very strong human trait. I am not saying that participants are good role models, they are not by a long shot, but they do reveal some basal characteristic of human nature.

My friendly advice to you is to stick to your own area of expertise as you are good at it and I believe that is journalism too. You make crude remarks of dumbing down. I am going to let that go and not respond in kind.

The Mound of Sound said...

LD, do you not realize that what you watch on these shows isn't what actually happened? Don't you understand that what you're watching is the packaged result of an enormous amount of editing of raw video to create a product that fits a dramatic narrative? It's cinematically edited. It's textually edited. It's even chronologically edited. After being presented with this contextual mosaic you think you're going to discern insights into human behaviour? Really?

Look at it this way. It would be like a legal scholar such as James Morton trying to critique a trial based on a television news report.

Read Wolcott's piece on reality TV in this month's Vanity Fair. You might just realize you've been had.

LeDaro said...

MoS, I am well aware of that. Even people you meet daily have one persona in public and another one in private. So there is a sort of editing going on right there.

The episodes of these shows are once a week and only for one hour -selected from seven days – 24x7 hours. So of course producers decide what to show. All I watch is 2 hours a week which is not a hell of a lot of time devoted to them and they are not on year around.

When it comes to TV. I strictly watch news, documentaries and these limited reality shows. They are not your trained actors and there are some raw emotions which show through. They are not reading from a teleprompter. My own son does not like them. So there you go. I suppose every body has different likes and dislikes.

Anyway I sound like a promo guy for these shows which I don't intend to be.

As I said before your journalistic abilities are great and everyday when I turn on the computer I go to your blog first before I go to newspapers because you do provide great analysis. So I disagreed with a very minute part of your writing. Actually I started it as humours comment which turned into a lengthy exchange. It is getting late in Atlantic Canada so I am calling it a day.

LeDaro said...

.."Read Wolcott's piece on reality TV in this month's Vanity Fair.."

OMG, you read Vanity Fair.:) Should I trust facts in your posts in future?

"It would be like a legal scholar such as James Morton trying to critique a trial based on a television news report." People in legal field do worse than that. They present cases in court which turn out to be pure fiction. Talking about making up the facts. :)

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