The Reality of TV

This happens to me often: I’d surf through all the channels on my TV and go “There’s nothing to watch!”. And I bet it happens to you as well.

The invasion of totally weird to just plain silly reality TV shows has been swift, but far from over. It all started rather innocently with a show called Survivor, which was quite original and revolutionary at that time.

Then all hell broke loose.

TV & Remote
I'd rather have a...

Fast forward 10 years or so and there are more reality TV shows than any other kind of programming. Everything from people living in swamps to people driving trucks on ice roads is available for your viewing pleasure.

And we’re possibly only getting less than half of what they have in the US. Thank god!

The thing about reality shows – and why they’re so popular – is that they’re cheaper to produce than regular shows. No need for networks to employ writers, actors, costume designers, music directors or even a director at times.

But cheaper production costs aside, the other reason is actually advertising; or niche advertising as a matter of fact.

You see, TV used to be a mass media. Brands just clamour to advertise on primetime to reach as many eyes as possible.

Then came the internet, which allows for pin-point targeting. Something no other media can offer. So what do TV networks do? They fight back!

Their first move is to create programmes for almost every conceivable niche on the planet, then build viewership and finally get brands to advertise within that niche. Here are few general examples:


Well, in any case, the good news is that TV now allows for some degree of targeting. The bad news however, is that crappy programmes are here to stay

10 Reasons Why I Hate Astro

When just one company controls a particular market segment, it’s called a Monopoly. And nothing says monopoly better in Malaysia than cable TV operators Astro.

As a consumer and an ad-man, I like competition.

When companies compete, consumers win. Usually with cheaper prices and better value; think about the hypermarkets and how they slash prices like crazy to pull-in customers.

And we freelance copywriters, art directors and designers get more work to do when companies compete; because they then have to run aggressive promotional activities that require our services.

Don't be an ass, Astro!

Of course with Astro, there’s no such thing. Their only competition is free-to-air TV, which might as well not exist.

I’ve been a bill-paying customer of Astro for close to 10 years, so I think I have earned the right to speak my mind. Hence the reasons why I hate Astro:

  1. I now pay double in fees for the same package I have subscribed since day one. Remember, more channels does not mean more value; I can only watch one channel at a time.
  2. Astro always cite the rising costs of programming globally when increasing their prices. Why not pass on these costs to advertisers rather than us consumers?
  3. Sometimes it feels like I am paying to watch ads. There are way too many ads for a subscription-based service.
  4. The programming is much left to be desired. Repeats after repeats of old programmes. If you’re a fan of Jamie Oliver, you know what I’m talking about.
  5. Absurd packaging of channels. Only one or two decent channels in a package. The rest is garbage. Why not let us choose the channels we want, individually?
  6. Rain, solar interruption and sometimes even when it’s just very cloudy; you get the very familiar “services currently not available” message.
  7. Even the 45-mins of watching a live football match is littered with on-screen running tickers, cross-promos and ads. My 32-inch TV is often reduced to a 21-inch!
  8. The Box Office packages are a rip-off. They often show old, B-grade movies on regular movie channels and charge a premium for decent movies.
  9. I’d probably have more luck getting an appointment with the prime minister than getting hold of someone on the other end of their customer service hotline.
  10. They say Tutor TV helps school children learn better; but in actual fact they are just turning kids into TV addicts.

Ahhhhh… it’s nice to get stuff off your chest. Now where’s the damn remote!