Free-to-air Isn’t Dead, It Just Smells Funny

How low can free-to-air television go? PAT PILCHER rails about the pointlessness of yet more pretend-current affairs and poo stink commercials.

 

TVNZ don’t seem to have got the memo. Despite the fact that youth are not sitting in front of TVs, and have migrated to a much more fun, stimulating place online, TVNZ are going hell for leather to launch a current affairs show specifically aimed at ‘youth’. Called RE:news, this offering really sounds dire. Forced edginess and oldies trying desperately to connect ‘wiv da yoof’ simply won’t work.

Then there’s the wider market to take into consideration. There’s already a huge oversupply of faux current affairs content across most media outlets in New Zealand, and as for youth, current affairs just isn’t in their line of sight. To steal a Simon and Garfunkel line, they get “most of the news they need from the weather report”.

It’s hard not to feel sorry for TVNZ. The state broadcaster faces declining viewing audiences as a growing number of people opt for online content via services such as Netflix, Neon, Lightbox or even piracy.

That said, most people don’t stream current affairs, they want quality drama. Perhaps TVNZ should take a leaf out of Netflix’s books and focus on producing content people actually want to watch, not some warmed-over current affairs aimed at kids, or increasingly trashy reality shows. How about some honest to goodness drama, comedy, sci-fI, or even a technology show? God forbid, how about TVNZ look at re-booting Radio With Pictures, the show that sparked MTV into existence? Drama and content that reflects NZ could provide TVNZ with a unique point of difference than Netflix and others simply can’t match. Doing this could see TVNZ retaining viewers instead of driving them away.

Put simply, we don’t need any more current affairs. What we’re already being force-fed is bad enough.

Then there’s the advertising. Last week I was staying at a hotel that didn’t have Sky or streaming services, so I was stuck with Freeview. TVNZ was running a poo deodoriser on high rotate. I kid you not, it was called V.I.Poo. The advert features a you girl as a Hollywood starlet answering the call of nature. She’s worried about creating a stink and uses this bizarre concoction to mask things. The advert goes into fecal donuts and is breathtakingly trashy. Sadly, it was one of the better examples given its mild comedic value. Free to air TV seems to be pretty low-rent these days, with awful shouty adverts imploring us to buy this crap we never knew we needed and get two for free are as good as it gets. Online, a canny customer can employ the services of adblockers, but it seems that on the broadcast arena, no one can hear you scream (with frustration at your TV).

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