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TV is not what it used to be

Musings on luxury and leisure, post annus horribilis

In the beginning there was one channel, and it went to sleep before midnight. We all watched the same programmes [sic], because we didn’t have any choice.

Monday morning watercooler conversations (actually then they were more “tap water” conversations) were self-adjudicating – we were all watching the same coverage of the same event on the same TV channel the night before – though even then we could still disagree on the referee’s impartiality, or lack thereof.

Then it was colour and our lives were truly enriched. TV persisted later into the evening – though still no ads on Sunday – oh well.

Then there were three channels. We were living the life.

When TV watching began to unravel

And we get to today, and that’s where it started to unravel for me. I accept that when my
TV takes too long to warm up now, I probably need to toss it into the inorganic collection pile and not call the Tisco man to come and replace some valves.

But nothing else about TV seems easy anymore. A simple question, “What channel is it on?”, no longer has a simple answer.

The answer I recently received to that very question still has me scratching my head: “If you subscribe to the platform, you can stream it on any device, though you can get a weekend pass which may be cheaper – it’s not a pay-per-view but there are no ads in the premium subscription model which is way better than the free-to-air coverage.”

W-H-A-T-? I just wanted to know what channel it was on.

This lexicon of media jargon may explain why there is a whole bunch of new buttons on the remote that don’t get used. Does anyone know what they’re all for?

It’s a good thing that my TV is now internet-enabled and globally connected – the internet of things is truly a wonder to behold. But do I feel more connected, or more disconnected?

The jury is still out.

Our collective consciousness was once focused daily by the six o’clock news, which was … well … ‘news’.

Now my daily stream of minute-by-minute notifications and alerts have relegated the 6 o’clock news to an assortment of “old news” lifestyle magazine sections – first the news headlines (which I’ve already seen), then the quirky personality piece (which I don’t need), then the weather (which confirms my notifications), then the sport (ditto), then the warm fuzzy feelgood ending (OK, I like that bit).

Although YouTube is not my “TV” channel of choice, my demographic is a shrinking one. TikTok, whilst dangerously addictive, will never be my “6 o’clock” news-of-old.

If TV really is the opiate of the people, it appears the people have now moved on to harder drugs.

Alan Neben
Publisher, Bay of Plenty Business News

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