Foxtel Dumbs Us Down
Given a privileged position by Canberra Foxtel responds by treating its paying clients as chimps, dumbing us down American-style. The standard of pay TV is the biggest scandal in the Australian media.
Last night, wet and wintry, viewers like me turned on TV. A good documentary, you might think. Or something on an arts channel. Surely possibilities on a multi-channel medium to which you subscribe.
First the History Channel. Between 7.30 and 10.30 it screens programs on motor mechanics (even though they have their own motor channel, called Turbo Max) including the story of a vehicle flipping over three times before landing in an icy Vermont river. An hour devoted to garbage called American Pickers. This, on the History Channel when in the libraries of British and American sources there is material – priceless TV masterpieces – we will never see revived. Foxtel, programming on the cheap, won’t make a bid.
Foxtel used to have an arts entertainment channel,surely not an indulgence given they seem to have whole channels devoted to documentaries on the pathologically fat, to plastic surgery, to psychic practices and a so-called “Bio Channel” that runs a US court room routine called “Judge Judy”. But an arts entertainment channel? Last night their Studio channel, promised to subscribers as a revival of their old Ovation channel, served up two hours of punk rock. Meanwhile The Guardian website has been able to stream the Glyndebourne Meistersingers for a week. Hey Foxtel, that’s what an arts channel is supposed to do.
Forget a broader media inquiry. Give us a targeted investigation of pay TV and the avoidance of broadcaster responsibility. Foxtel’s programing is a colossal fraud, the serving-up of pulp – Teen Mom, Psychic Sally, America’s Fattest Honeymooners – only because it is dead cheap. No serious documentaries, no arts entertainment. Just a dedicated cretinisation of public tastes.
I am seeking allies to get action on this out of Canberra. To start, can someone tell me what body has a supervisory responsibility for pay TV? Seems one of the mysteries of the universe. And why can’t the Fairfax media take this up? And I am only focussed here on program quality. Leave for another day arguments about ads now being forced in every six minutes – this on channels you are already paying for.
I will run a special section on this blog for Foxtel’s most egregiously bad programing. You can make your own nominations. It will be a crowded field.