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Thursday, 1 November 2012

Demise of the telly


Interesting post from cityunslicker about the number of people who don't own a TV set and how surprisingly common it seems to be among bloggers. Certainly that's my limited experience, because at least two people who comment here don't own a TV. That seems to be a high percentage compared to the 96.2% of households with a TV - according to Ofcom.

Early in our married life, we didn't own one either. Now our TV viewing has declined to almost nothing, I'm beginning to wonder why we have the thing. In fact we have two, which is even more a cause for head-scratching introspection because we can watch it on our laptops anyway. We hardly ever do, but we could - we don't need the great flat screen thingy in the corner.

In the evening we read, we browse the Web and we listen to music - watching TV is restricted to an increasingly thin list of films we've recorded. As we don't really like films, most of them are switched off shortly after the start. Our evenings hardly ever involve settling down to watch a good film. In fact hardly ever seems to be turning into never.

It's not a good idea to project one's own situation onto the rest of society, but I've spent almost my whole life with a TV set in the corner of the living room as part of the furniture. It was always the main domestic entertainment medium with the BBC dominating the field. As of course only the BBC is able to do because of its licence fee scam.

We still buy one of those TV guides each week and I still give it a peruse to see if anything is worth recording, but I hardly ever find anything to arouse even mild enthusiasm. I'm sure my futile searching is a residual habit, a form of conditioning which isn't easy to shake off. A very small number of almost worthwhile programmes keeps me searching. Intermittent reinforcement - it's how gambling works.

Maybe it's not worth the effort though, because even a spot of aimless Web surfing is more interesting and enjoyable than gaping at the TV. The TV set is technically outmoded but TV content is pretty dire too. Somehow it feels like a fatal combination.

6 comments:

Scrobs... said...

The Haarts and the Scroblenes live in a parallel universe, as we're almost on exactly the same sort of schedule.

Mrs S reads far more than she used to now - libraries are much better these days, (sorry - perhaps the wrong thing to say to a writer...), and I enjoy this option on a PC in an adjoining room, so we're still within chatting distance.

Even I've got back into reading again, and writing blogs, etc, as well as being a totally different character on a gardening website, where I am now a Senior Citizen, getting personal enquiries on how to grow tomatoes...

All this will change, when eventually, we ditch an old PC, and join the tablet brigade, where I will also be able to do my day job in better surroundings.

But we need to get the money coming in faster before that, so it's the little 17" flat screen until then.

Interesting post this, and good for BQ for raising the issue too.

Roger said...

With respect the inhabitants of the better blogs are probably not representative of the mainstream. But could it be that I am old and crabby? The old have seen most things, few play plots are new, adverts wash right over and our opinions are rather set - so ignore that demographic.

So where is it likely to go and who is the likely audience or more importantly who will pay and who will get paid? The mainstream BBC/ITV/SKY axis will continue to rent-seek with jobs-for-the-meeja. The govt will want to tax but the box-in-the-corner may well disappear from middle-class homes. Perhaps we will all have our own Ipad and watch and hear our own choice. One thing is sure though, you will still pay for it and no cherry picking allowed.

Alternatively what passes for telly in the US and France and Asia will prevail, in which case get rid of the box - but by then you will still be paying for it - internet delivered see - they got you all ways round.

Sam Vega said...

I'm not sure whether TV has had its day, or whether I have just seen through it, so to speak. I gave up because I was just watching for the sake of watching, and not enjoying it at all. There were some good programmes, but they could be watched later on the laptop.

Since giving away the TV, however, the interesting thing is how utterly dreadful the programmes now appear on the odd occasions that I check one out on i-player or whatever. Structures seem to be trite and formulaic. There is a tawdry attempt to grab the attention of the viewer in an obvious way. And over-emoting is endemic. In the case of fiction I cannot suspend my disbelief, and the sense of a produced artifact is evident throughout.

So I'm not sure whether the quality has deteriorated, or whether I have just got out of the mind-set required to watch telly.

Demetrius said...

There was a lovely programme yesterday about people in Brisbane putting on Havergal Brian's "Gothic Symphony". It was on Sky Arts 2. If you like or are interested in Havergal Brian, that is.

James Higham said...

Get rid of it. Have nothing more to do with it. All you have to lose is your chains.

A K Haart said...

Scrobs - it sounds as if you are in our position. Do we dump the telly and stop paying the licence though?

Roger - I think they will look for ways to make us pay, but I bet we'll be very choosy. I almost wonder if this ship has sailed and they missed it. Hope so.

Sam - I know just what you mean. When I watch I'm just looking at how it's done. Crudely is the answer.

Demetrius - we don't have Sky, mostly because we decided against it a few years back - too much dross, although I haven't seen Sky Arts 2.

James - I know, I know, but it's a habit!