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March 7, 2005 | by  | in Opinion |
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Television – An escape from reality, in a living room near you.

It wouldn’t be very nice of me to say that New Zealand television news sucks, so I won’t. What I will say is New Zealand TV news is shit. When 6 o’clock rolls around it’s nice to sit back and relax with dinner while absorbing some current events. It used to be that either TV3 or TV1 would get my patronage, but that’s all changed. Ever since my Mummy and Daddy got Sky Digital installed at home I scarcely watch homegrown news anymore.

Before I had seen foreign news broadcasts from the likes of the BBC and CNN, the treatment of world news by 1 and 3 was just fine and dandy. But after viewing other news broadcasts and then comparing them with what we get free-to-air, the difference in quality becomes apparent. I am sure there are many reasons why New Zealand falls short of the mark: We don’t have the funding to have correspondents all over the world (but we can pay Judy Bailey $800,000 a year to do exactly what her counterparts on TV3 do for a smaller combined salary), we are an isolated island nation and so domestic issues should carry more weight than world issues, and no one really cares anyway. Ok, so maybe all of those are true, but that doesn’t make it acceptable or right to deliver such poor news casting. The majority of people with TVs in NZ are limited to free channels provided by the Government and some Canadian dudes. Because the pool of channels is so small, the quality of programming should be high, but the opposite is true. TV3 and TV1 compete ferociously for the majority of the 6pm news audience, but fail to realise that in the process they are falling behind the rest of the world. I don’t like to admit this, but even the Australians manage to cover all the important world events as well as all those dingo vs. baby stories in their news bulletins.

Both TV3 and TV1 rely heavily on other networks’ news stories to fill in the gaps. Because we are getting stories second hand we are getting them delayed and usually with whole chunks missing from the story. I saw a piece about the success of The Incredibles movie on CNN, and then saw it three days later, with half the content missing slapped onto the end of 3 News, naughty naughty!

An hour just isn’t enough to properly cover the events of the past twenty-four hours. I am sick to death of those fluffy, tied-with-a-bow human-interest stories that 3 and 1 rely on to fill in time. Since the news is limited to an hour, that time should be used for the most important and relevant news stories. It seems our free-to-air channels decide the news hour by sensationalism and ratings rather than importance and quality. Viewers should be able to get a free, good quality representation of the day’s goings on when they watch the news. At the moment neither channel is delivering this.

The next step for either 1 or 3 should be a channel fully devoted to news, sport and weather. This isn’t exactly an impossible ideal to achieve and will hopefully raise the quality of our TV news industry.

Before I sign off for this week I’d just like to get something out in the open. I hate The O.C. It’s a terrible, terrible show. If you like The O.C, get some help. Watching The OC makes you a Pop Tart. If I wasn’t so lazy I would start an anti-The O.C club.

Remember, I’d love to hear your abuse, rants or world domination ideas: ravenous_ryan@hotmail.com

Lost, TV2, Wednesday 8.30.

Billed as the best new thing to hit our TV screens, Lost was another show that had to deliver or face being labeled an anti-climax. Lost comes from the creators of Alias and Crossing Jordon, both of which have done very well in the states, but failed to impress here. A plane crashes on a pacific island and those who survive now have to survive each other, or something wishy washy like that. Putting it like that, Lost sounds rather predictable and un-imaginative. But it is far from that. Each character has an interesting back story which explains how they got to be on the plane. By slowly exposing each character’s true nature with flashbacks, Lost adds extra elements of drama and foreboding. As each character’s secrets come out, the tension increases. The fact that all the characters are stuck on an island does not limit the writers to storylines with coconuts and volleyballs. Flashbacks provide ample room for storyline growth, and ensure an escape from the familiar island scene.

Drug addiction, manipulation, racial profiling and insanity all go into the mix; add in a fear of bloodthirsty animals, starvation and dehydration and you have a conflict-ridden drama with true ratings potential. It’s nice to see a show that actually lives up to the hype for once. Lost receives an energetic ‘Oh yeah!’ from me.

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  1. Jeff Buckley says:

    Um, I disagree. Australian news (channel 90) is bloody awful… Talk about human interest stories! The other news channels will be covering some story such as the Virginia Tech massacre, live broadcasts and all that. And Australian Sky News will be talking to some sheep farmer about his fence dispute with his neighbour. It’s terrible. Boo. Shame. Good article.

  2. I hope he’ll hear you all the way back in 2005.

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