Wednesday, September 08, 2004

The news today, oh boy 

I’m basically a capitalist. This makes me fully in favour of competition, especially when it benefits the consumer. The sooner an efficient bank enters the South African market and does away with bank charges, the better. I hadn’t paid bank charges in my life until I came here.

Anyway, back to the intended topic: a few years ago a new terrestrial TV channel started in South Africa. This was a Good Thing. SABC, the state broadcaster, was sorely in need of competition, having slid smoothly from being the mouthpiece of the National Party to being the ANC’s lapdog. eTV came along and shook things up a bit. They brought a fresh approach and some new ideas. They even managed to spend their money better on imported programmes: The Sopranos and West Wing versus Cosby and Everybody Loves Raymond.

Their evening news show was a particular success – an hour of news, allowing wider and deeper coverage, as opposed to 10 minutes each of propaganda and sport followed by a smug weatherman (the balance is ads). Recently though, they have lost their way.

The first of their recent fiascos was to doorstep the family of Leigh Matthews on the day that her body was found after her kidnapping. They followed up this masterpiece of disgraceful and sickening reporting with their coverage of the Thatcher debacle. During this, they gave out his home address, which strikes me as totally unprofessional, especially since he has so far been found guilty of nothing more than a sullen attitude and a lack of discernible talent other than being able to spell his surname. Finally, this week, they ran a “news” piece about medical aid which was pure advertising for the company which presumably runs their medical fund. I know for a fact that eTV barters advertising airtime for goods and services, but to disguise it as a news piece is pathetic.

OK, I’ve finished ranting now. Oh, no I haven’t – they also insert slots on the crappy wrestling they televise, as if that was news too. Tossers. Right now I’m done. I guess I am spoiled, being brought up on the BBC, which remains more or less sane despite behind the scenes shenanigans. And despite (or probably because of) some of the nutters it employs.

Finally: a new idea. You may have noticed that my post headers are bits of lyrics. You may also have noticed that they link to the relevant album on Amazon. Not any more! Now you have to figure out what they are – this means you Gallois! I’ll add the links when someone has guessed, or I get bored waiting for someone to guess. Today’s is an easy one to start you off.

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