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25 February, 2007

Australian TV Networks Suck

I get pretty indignant about the disgraceful state of broadband in Australia. My biggest complaint has been that I couldn’t get any broadband at all until a few days ago – even the miserably slow services on offer to some parts of the country. But other things about the Australian media industries are irritating too.

I read a news article yesterday about how the Australian TV networks impose an average of almost 17 months’ delay between overseas programs being aired in their own countries and them being aired over here. It isn’t surprising – the Australian TV networks are obviously run by people who are happy to provide a third-class service at a first-class price, and our third-class governments are happy to let them get away with it – but it is certainly annoying. The length of this delay has actually increased over the past two years – from 7.6 months then to 16.7 months now.

Anyone who watches Australian TV will know how amateurish and slipshod the programming is – with series being stopped mid-way through, programmes being arbitrarily re-scheduled all the time, series being cancelled with no notice and even, occasionally, the programmes in a series being shown in the wrong order! They will also have noticed how much advertising there is now compared to content. I haven’t clocked it but my guess is that it would be about 50:50 – possibly it’s worse than that. Even the pay TV services (that’s you, Foxtel!) are packed with ads. You wonder what the hell we’re paying for!

And then there’s the problem of the country’s shoddy infrastructure. The same reason I can’t get decent broadband – no underground cable network to my door – is the reason I have to have satellite TV – which is why, every time we have a few drops of rain, the TV dies! The one and only good thing about the drought is that it is improving the satellite TV reception!

Because the media business in Australia is a duopoly and because successive governments are the drooling lapdogs of their owners (I don’t know why – could it be there’s some money involved somewhere?) none of this is going to change. We will continue to lag behind the rest of the world, we will continue to have media policies that favour the corporations rather than the consumers, and things will continue to get worse and worse.

Until we all get sick of it.

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