So a friend (AF), and I, settled in for a few hours on Saturday 10-SEP-05 to watch the new Channel 1 on TransACT, Channelvision.
“A channel with vision”
My, the hours they must have spent coming up with that.
Anyway, some thoughts and observations follow.
Having found no mention on the website of which channel it was actually on I waded through 30 channels of parliament and foreign language news before we decided that the documentary about kangaroos on the number 1 “Info” channel was what we were looking for.
The program guide suggested this was Cutting Room – Kings of the Outback – Australia’s Kangaroos, 52 mins. Which was handy as it meant the program was about to start (there being no scheduled time on Channelvision).
During the credits to this soporific documentary we noticed a problem you get a lot on TransACT. They assume everyone’s got a widescreen. Which means a lot of stuff gets chopped off the edges.
Which brought us to Launch Promo – The launch of Channelvision in Canberra on the TransACT network (Channel 1), 5 mins, Launch Promotion (Now they tell me where to find it!)
It opens with a Voice of God and, oh my, it’s LOUD!!! TOO LOUD!!! Having lured me into turning it up with the ever so quiet roo doco they blast us with their wonderfulness. And oh what a promo it is, just dripping in bling. (AF Sez: one wonders why they feel the need to promote themselves to people already interested enough to be watching the damn channel. why have five minutes of house ads when you could have an extra five minutes of something interesting?) In the promo for the “Vox Pop” section the roving reporter announces “I don’t like talking to people who are smarter with me” which one suspects will limit things somewhat.
Having endured the promo we got to the arts program. Entertainment Canberra – Aarwun Galley [sic], Interview with Ian Henderson (Artist currently exhibiting at Aarwun Gallery), Canadian Band Crowned King, CSIRO Discovery, 30 mins
A must see for carpenters with one presenter astonishingly wooden while the other appeared to be preparing for a career in children’s television, lots of shouting and waggling the head.
The interview on location was notable for a very lame attempt to hide the use of a single camera which made the questions sound like statements and the answers disembodied from the questions.
But that was no great loss as the questions were tedious and read out in a list with no effort to follow up on what the talent actually had to say. (AF sez: this turned out to be a feature of most of the interviews).
Things were a little better in the studio where at least they appeared to have two cameras, although in patches the sound was at times out of synch with the vision.
Ian Henderson, the artist, was at times openly contemptuous of his interviewer and was allowed to ramble on interminably. (AF Sez: not so much contemptuous of the interviewer i thought as leaping on a chance to rant on about something that is obviously close to his heart though probably not of much interest to most casual viewers. she should have cut him off much sooner.)
We then had an interview with a Canadian band called “Crowned King”. The interview was conducted in the tomb-like ANU bar with the hum of the bar refrigerators discernable in the background (AF Sez: how on earth did they get all the uni students out of there?). If there’s anything interesting or notable about Crowned King it wasn’t evident in the interview. The snippets of music video we got suggested I might have liked them, if I got to know them, but that wasn’t going to happen in this sort of interview. Some of Crowned King’s music laid down as background would have really, really helped. I can lend them my laptop with its copy of iMovie if the tech out at NRS studios isn’t up to that sort of thing.
This was followed by an alarming 12-year-old boy in a cheap suit and white t-shirt talking about the CSIRO discovery centre, complete with footage of a bored bus driver. One assumes he was bored by the CSIRO centre which did not appear riveting in the glimpse we were given of it. In fact I can only surmise, from what we were told, that the CSIRO discovery centre is a way to torture children who have been bad. I suggest the Human Rights Commissioner be alerted.
In the credits we also learned that the music was by local maestro Harrii Bandhu; he seems to have done all their shows.
And then was got a pile of ads. Who would pay to advertise on ChannelVision? Well they included through the viewing period: Grapevine (TransACT ISP), Land Development Agency, TravelMakers and very notably Belconnen Fresh Fruit Markets. Why notably? Because they’ve got 10 minutes later in the program in the Food For Thought show. Those who feared CityNews on TV can hear alarm bells ringing.
And so to Business Vision – Interview with Christopher Peters (CEO ACT Chamber of Commerce and Industry), Interview with Michael Hawke (Editor/Publisher City News), 20 mins.
The hosts of Business Vision were a bald nerd and an inconspicuous woman. During this segment, shot entirely in the studio, it became apparent that the chairs in the studio were rather bouncy and indeed the heads kept on bouncing throughout this and later segments.
First up was the Chief Executive of the ACT & Region Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Chris Peters, who appeared to have a schoolboy knot in his tie (Snob? Moi? Mais oui!). There are a lot of interesting issues one could ask Chris Peters about and almost none of them were asked. When the questions were moderately interesting Chris ignored the question and answered something else (AF sez: and was allowed to get away with it). The whole thing became a pitch for the chamber, extolling its virtues to prospective members.
But if we’re talking about advertisements presented as news then there’s only one man to turn to and as luck would have it he was next up. Yes the one and only Michael Hawke, CityNews editor and publisher, sporting what looked like a nasty shaving cut.
He was fronted by the female presenter who was wearing a blue men’s business shirt. Personally I reckon there’s little sexier than a woman in a man’s shirt (especially if that shirt is mine) but it’s not an obvious choice for presenting a business show.
Michael offered some memorable quotes such as “We try to push the limits”. A truer word was never spoken and when it comes to advertorial he’s certainly pushed those limits to new levels.
Interestingly Michael talked at length about the challenges of running a weekly paper and seemed to be unaware he has a website which could be updated anytime.
Even more interesting, however, was that with CityNews listed as a ChannelVision sponsor on the bottom of their web-page, no mention of the sponsorship was included in the interview.
Some vague attempt at having any sort of credibility would have been welcome.
More ads follow, including Canberra Tourism. Nice to see the hapless wankers promoting Canberra tourism in a medium in which only a very small number of ONLY Canberrans can hope to see it.
And so to the Vox Pops, which appear to have been conducted at an hour in which no-one at all was in Civic and so only students skipping class, and insane welfare recipients, were available for comment. A poor start made worse by dire questioning which revolved around what people thought of ChannelVision (AF sez: or how they liked living in canberra). The answers to what people think of things they’ve neither seen nor heard of is not great television.
Occasionally they had skateboarders making masturbation gestures in the background. In general the antics of the boarders were the best part.
The worst question in the history of television could well have been “You tend not to go to artistic places for tourism?” and those who tune into ChannelVision will have the privilege of hearing it.
The short punchy programs do tend to make the ads extremely repetitive and with the five minute vox pops bracketed with ads and self promotion it gets to be heavy viewing (made worse by dire interview technique)
So we came to Sports Vision – Interview with Rachel Wells (Choreographer, Raiderettes), Profile on the Raiderettes, 12 mins.
This was hosted by one Candace (AF sez: candice possibly? though she looked like the type to have a pretentious name) Lester, who is very easy on the eye. Choreographer Rachel Wells is easily the best thing on ChannelVision. Combining intelligence with frankness and managing to overcome the list-like questioning with such admissions as the thing a prospective Raiderette most needs is to be “able to learn to dance” (my emphasis), and that the major challenge to being a Raiderette is “public acceptance”. She hinted at women’s issues in the NRL but sadly Candace lacked the wit to follow up the questioning.
The following, more general, puff piece about the Raiderettes focused on Karla Tatterson and Jasmine Rich. During this it became clear that large hoop earrings are a standard part of Raiderette equipment.
Finally we had Short Talk – Interview with Mary Benn about her short film “The Silver Screw” and screening, 11 mins, about short movies.
In previous content we had remarked amongst ourselves that perhaps ChannelVision could be more aptly named NostrilVision as, possibly by dint of a short camera-person, we’d spent a lot of time looking up people’s noses. In Short Talk this was mercifully remedied.
The lack of follow up questions was sadly still in full flight. Particularly in this interview where Mary Benn was throwing around technical terms and the interviewer lacked the wit to make her explain herself. This inadequacy would normally be put down to his hair-cut which resembled a mutant cockatoo (was it a faux-hawk or did he just have a pointy head?) but in this case crap interview technique seems to be part of the ChannelVision style guide.
AF made a final plea that presenters change their shirts, and the sets change background, when moving show.
The programming had turned to the lighthouses of Australia. Canberra being somewhat under-resourced in the lighthouse department, we abandoned the project in favour of playing X-Men Legends (AF being crap on 20 year old marvel/x-person lore, but killer with timed combos).
So what is ChannelVision? Claims of CityNews in TV format would appear to have some substance. Operated by a video production company in the form of NRS, they’re obviously hoping to create demand for their primary business by creating an outlet.
Should you watch it? Well it’s better than most daytime TV. And given the craptacular nature of much TV at any time these days it’s not all that bad. I would say there’s nothing wrong with it that a few hours spent watching the Lehrer Newshour on SBS and a case of tequila to loosen everyone up can’t fix.
That, and some backbone in the area of ethics.