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Foxtel Goes For Quality

February 5, 2012
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If the convergence review or the office of Communications Minister Conroy wanted confirmation of the Foxtel programmers’ contempt for quality, a quick dip into January’s program would clarify things.

Flick on The History Channel to watch a program on UFOs. Cheap filler material. That way we don’t have to throw money away on buying documentaries. Yes, a program devoted to the theories of UFO hunters. On The History Channel. Or, if your zest for the supernatural needs more quenching, you might have caught the January 25 program about American haunted houses…followed by another episode of UFO hunters. This way between 8.30 and 10.30 you could view nothing but brain-wasting trash. Not on the channel for the supernatural – where you get Madge the Clairvoyant – but on what is promoted as a serious documentary outlet.

Foxtel, let it be recorded again, used to have a serious arts entertainment channel. Now they buy a package from mates at SBS who throw together old rock concerts wall-to-wall, without relief, now dropping any pretense that in their scores of channels there is any room for serious arts content. And spare me the line that Stevie Wonder and Elvis Costello are serious artists. They have other channels for popular music and they once had arts entertainment and documentaries with a sometimes good Ovation channel…but no more.

There is no power to regulate.

They get away with it.

And this mob wants to criticize the ABC!

If Auntie were every bit as bad as News critics say it is, the case for public broadcasting would be made by one glance at what the Foxtel monopoly serves up.

13 Comments
  1. February 5, 2012 3:32 pm

    Hmmm not everyone wants high brow. I get my Foxtel purely for the trash factor. It is junk food for the mind and sometimes that is all you want. It’s entertainment.

    • Bob Carr permalink
      February 5, 2012 3:50 pm

      Fine. That’s 60 channels for junk. But they have an obligation to give diversity. Let’s have two channels for serious documentaries then we can both be happy.

  2. Peter cleary permalink
    February 5, 2012 4:02 pm

    Bloody good comment! My thoughts entirely.

  3. Mike permalink
    February 5, 2012 4:13 pm

    Just have it disconnected – they do understand the bottom line. And if you don’t feed the animals, they’ll just go away or maybe they’ll just starve.

  4. David Armstrong permalink
    February 5, 2012 8:00 pm

    I think the History Channel is true tabloid television.

  5. charles permalink
    February 5, 2012 8:27 pm

    I only take Foxtel because it’s the only way I can watch rugby union, even World Cup games, which is an indictment of the free-to-air hucksters.

  6. Steve Fox permalink
    February 5, 2012 9:03 pm

    Simply Ignore Foxtel (load of Crap) get AppleTV, VNC and Plex the digital world is legally available to you.

  7. Neil Stollznow permalink
    February 8, 2012 2:56 pm

    While UFO shows on History do have an air of dissonance I think you’re overlooking the many genuinely interesting programs on the channel. In the next 24 hours there’s Time Team, Britain’s Biggest Heists and the history of the Franco Prussian War.

    And of course that’s just one of the many documentary channels. Don’t like what’s on History? There’s Discovery (mutiple versions) Nat Geo, Crime and BBC Knowledge.

    Moreover, no one is forcing you to view pay television. You might make an argument about the quality of free-to-air as part of the access to limited channels is a commitment in the licence to have some level of quality. Have you watched free to air lately? Have you seen what passes for news on Today Tonight and A Current Affair? I’d prefer to watch a million UFO ‘documentaries’ that one hour of either of those programs.

    I think you need to take a chill pill on Foxtel.

    • Bob Carr permalink
      February 8, 2012 8:02 pm

      Thanks for the official Fox line again. A simple way to settle things – let’s look at what’s on The History Channel tonight. Pick up the program and…goodness, what have we here…Storage Wars…Mega Movers Extreme Ocean Salvage…and, our old favorite UFO Hunters. Oh, there is some history…if you want to sit up and see it at 11.30. Dumb question: why call it The History Channel? Call it the Cheap Junk Channel. Or do what I’ve been suggesting: pick up the phone to the people who sell it to you and tell them they’re cheating and you want improvement. And do it with SBS as well in respect of that awful STVDIO Channel. What a joke that is compared with the old Ovation. Sky, I’m told, has four arts channels in the UK. And Ovation rated four times what STVDIO gets. Care to comment?

  8. Neil Stollznow permalink
    February 9, 2012 8:58 am

    Thank you for publishing my post and of course I’d like to comment.

    I’ve already mentioned some great programs that were on History yesterday, but I’m not sure you’re using the technology to its best advantage. With IQ I very rarely watch Foxtel in real-time. Programmed for recording are shows that will never find and audience on fee-to-air; “Focke Wulf 190”, “Secrets of War”, (both History) “The Bibles Buried Secrets”,”Test Your Brain” to name a few.

    I do not think Foxtel have sold the IQ service well, but with IQ you can really create your own TV channel and watch exactly what you feel in the mood for at any time.

    I don’t work for Foxtel and do not know anyone who does so it is amusing to be accused of being a running-dog-lackey by giving the ‘Fox line’ – whatever that is. I don’t have access to viewing ratings but I can tell you that I watch STVDIO with the same frequency that I watched Ovation….never.

    You obviously miss Ovation and I think Steve Hill made a great point in a previous post when he suggested you try AppleTV, VNC and Plex if you don’t like Foxtel. We are living in a time where “television” can come from a wide range of sources, so no matter how esoteric your tastes are you have a wide range of sources.

    If you don’t think you are getting enough Culture you are very welcome to come to the MCA drinks tonight on my pass. Though I suspect you’re on old-masters kinda guy.

    • Bob Carr permalink
      February 9, 2012 9:07 pm

      Okay, forgive me. Foxtel tonight is running extraterrestrials on the History Channel so it is incorrigible! How will I manage that technology? I love the MCA but don’t get there enough. Rothko and Rauschenberg are my favorites, also Bacon. Although the Renaissance exhibit in Canberra won me again to the great tradition of western art – to think that 20 years ago that Bergamo museum bored me. So invite me and I’ll come. I just like human creativity.

  9. Neil Stollznow permalink
    February 9, 2012 10:21 pm

    Unfortunately the MCA event was earlier this evening but I will certainly drop you a line for the next event. The Rafael Lozano-Hemmer exhibition is amazing but only on till Sunday – well worth the visit.

    The new technology may appear challenging but it’s really as simple as subscribing to a download and having a television that is web enabled which is standard for the newer models. Check out the Panasonic VIErA.

    One thing I’m sure that we can both agree on is the hope that a scientist will never say again about rare natural disaster (mega volcano, mega tsunami, asteroid hitting earth etc) “it’s no a matter of if it will happen, but when”. Yes, sometime in the next million years….

  10. Cassie permalink
    February 14, 2012 2:19 pm

    I subscribe to Foxtel and there are programmes that I enjoy and others that I just don’t watch. Whilst I can’t help detecting a note of elitism in your musings Bob, I do agree with you that the current crop of Foxtel programmes is rather bad. I originally subscribed a few years ago to view the History Channel, Discovery Channel, Food Channel and a few others and I have to say that over the last 2 to 3 years, I have noticed a great deterioration in the quality of programming on those channels. The Food Channel is now just a hotbed of grotesque reality cooking programmes and I am sick and tired of Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall and his River cottage crap.

    However, there are always bright spots which is more than I can say for the free to air and that, sadly, includes the ABC. Whilst I listen to ABC Classical radio, I don’t find much to watch on ABC television which is rather sad as it is the channel that I grew up watching. I find the local crop of ABC entertainment programmes contrived, often patronising and just plain boring. I have also switched off ABC current affairs and now watch Sky Channel which to me provides me with a better service of news, less shrill and more objective than the ABC.

    So what do you want Bob, programmes that only cater to your taste? Well television is a broad medium and there needs to be programming for all, not just a minority. Whilst I detest reality television, I choose not to watch it. Instead, I will turn off the tv and go and read a book. I certainly don’t want regulation because I also don’t want soviet style television and I have a feeling that many in the ABC would like to dictate to the masses what they should be reading, watching and eating. Well in that case I’ll take the junk and simply switch off the tv and go and read a good book instead. And whilst I don’t like programmes about aliens, I also don’t like programmes like Q&A, and actually, if I was forced to choose by government regulation, I’d choose aliens anyday rather than having to view and listen to Tony Jones and most of the panellists that turn up on Q&A.

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