Sunday, June 03, 2007

TV Bugs...

Bugs. You know those little graphics that persist on the TV, usually in a lower corner, that helpfully tell you what channel you're watching? You know, the little things that have turned into the most invasive, annoying thing on television (and that takes in reality programs, Jerry Falwell, and all manner of infomercial).

I hate 'em. With a passion. So much so that I have decided to make a running list of channels that do *not* have them. At this point, I've only found TCM - Turner Classic Movies. Let me clarify... it's the only one with programming that I'll watch *and* that does not have a bug in the corner. I've had to make concessions for other channels, like SciFi and Cartoon Network, both of which are at least reasonable in their invasion; small, translucent graphics that don't move, glimmer, or make sound.

Watching a local broadcast station with my wife, a show which had been recorded on DVR, we were interrupted by a loud thunderclap and a graphic which covered the lower third of the TV screen. It was a severe weather warning. For last week. I played it back to get some statistics. The sound bite was 4 seconds, more than enough time to obscure the audio of the program. The graphic lasted a full minute, replaying the same message several times. At the end, the thunder clap sounded again, in case we missed it the first time, to let us know our chance at reading the text was gone. For 15 minutes. Then it came back.


Now, I don't like to offer complaints without some kind of solution. So let's look at the good stuff first. Ok, severe weather. If we were travelling, we'd want to know and may not have the forethought to go check online. Or look outside. Fair enough. And if we weren't actually *looking* at the TV, we'd miss the graphic-only announcement. The thunderclap is an attention-getting device.

But it doesn't take into account timeliness or annoyance. How about this... play a small beep, and run the text across the bottom of the screen, like the good old days. It's easy to ignore or read, at the viewer's discretion. It also doesn't obscure the program. If it's really urgent, break into the show, just like the good old days. That would let us skip forward if the information is no longer valid.

Another solution I have for non-news interruptions is this; don't. I have satellite, so I *know* which damned channel I'm watching. In fact, I'm more familiar with the stations by their programming because there are so many providers that it doesn't make sense to refer to a station by frequency selection when talking to others. So get rid of them. And those 'helpful' previews or announcements about upcoming shows?

Kill 'em. Kill 'em all.

Do it between shows, during the normal ads. Do it online when I'm looking up a show I already like. Send me a freaking email, if I've opted in. But DON'T DO IT DURING MY SHOW!!! I'm watching to be entertained NOW. I am NOT interested in being interrupted to watch something else in the future.

If I developed or starred in a TV show, I'd be greatly offended that my hard work was being interrupted by the *next* work that was going to be interrupted.

I have a pad of paper on which I write down shows that are advertised this way. Every few days, I write to the stations (when possible) and let them know I specifically will NOT watch what has been thrust upon me during one of these blipvert bastards. I encourage everyone to do the same.

Let's reclaim our sacred vegetative time *during* the shows. Write your favourite stations and tell them to remove the damn bugs, and NOT to interrupt our mindless absorption. Do it now, do it often.

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