Digital TV Screen Abuse
by Chris Johnson
There are many examples of "screen abuse" on TV, and
Digital TV, especially the Digibucks™, has
produced more of them than virtually any other form of
screen garbage. Here are a few examples of the kind of
thing you might expect to see...
Excuse the dodgy fake-latin! Also some of the TV
station names have been changed to protect the
Expanding Advert Breaks
Many years ago, when the IBA still held sway,
there was a strict policy that no broadcast hour
would contain more than six minutes of
advertising. Decades later, the IBA is a memory,
and the various commercial companies do pretty
much as they please. I've seen some companies put
six minutes into one break at times! Of
course, this only applies to actual commercials,
Tedius Campagnii Dodgi-Floggius. The
expansion of channels has resulted, however, in
additional self-advertising, Tedius Campagnii
Exhibitionus as well as the usual crop of
upcoming series adverts, Tedius Campagnii
Impendus. Indeed, with the steadily
increasing number of ads being televised, it
often looks like programming is now just
something to fill the time between ad breaks.
Nobody can drink that much tea!
TCF © BBC, IBA &
DOG's or Bugs
Much has been said of DOGs (Digitally Originated
Graphics) or Bugs as they are known in the
Yooessof Aye, and apart from the folk that put
them on the screen, little good has been said.
Before the advent of satellite TV, the UK saw
nothing of these little nuisances, but then
Murdovision started to use them, using the reason
that "the viewer will need to know which channel
they are watching". Well, receiver technology
developed to the point where such arguments were
no longer valid, but far from killing these bugs
off, the critters are actually breeding!
The original use for the DOG was the channel
ident, Buggius Simplex. Since then we
have seen the development of the special season
DOG, Buggius Superfluous and the distant
relative to the Coming-up syndrome, the Coming-up
Announcement Buggius Status
Bleedinobvious. Sometimes it can be
difficult to see what is actually being broadcast
because of the bugs. But why do we have them?
Easy. Branding is seen by the programming idiots
as a subtle way of gaining loyalty, and also
keeps us naughty video people from pirating.
Don't they trust us or something?
If you are not a Digibucks™ user, then you
have yet to suffer the nuisance of the Red
Button. It is not part of the broadcast screen
itself, but is displayed by the Digibucks™
every time the broadcaster wants you to press the
red button on your controller. You can
get rid of it by pressing "back-up", but it just
comes back again should the broadcaster wish it.
So why might they want you to press the thing?
Well, sometimes it is to get you to look at a
guide, or play a game, or order something, but
often it involves money. It is a cynical ploy to
part you from your hard earned. It is a nag
device. And you can't turn it off!
Screen-squash Coming-up Syndrome
Interruptus Status Bleedinovious
This is where the programme screen, usually the
closing credits, are squashed sideways to admit
an insert that shows the next programme. This
actually was first used to show special news or
sports bulletins (Interruptus Urgentus),
shrinking the screen from the bottom, but has
been increasingly used for "coming up"
announcements in recent years. This method is
especially popular on EyeTeeVee, MurdoChannel,
Disgovery and Cartoon Notwork, often accompanied
by voice overs, whether they interfere with
closing programme announcements or not!
Far from getting better, the situation is getting
far worse. The "Screen-squash" syndrome detailed
above has evolved into the "Interruptus Pluggus",
where the squash continues further over, almost
obliterating the running show, and the sound is
also overlaid. The worst example of this is
currently playing on Nicknick (all varieties),
with slightly less virulant versions spotted on
Cartoon Notwork and Teenomi, Paramont Tragedy and
EyeTeeVee (both versions, so it now seems).
Another recent nasty is the infection plaguing
Sciffi TV, which is suffering very badly from
Tedius Dodgifloggius combined with sponsorship
shorts ("Tedius Floggiproggius") and multiple
instances of Buggius Status Bleedinobvious. So
you will find that a show will have so much
screen trash over it that it becomes almost
Other less common nuisances (some of which have become
more common since I first wrote this) include the
drop-down reminder used by Cartoon Notwork (Buggius
Superfluous Turner-Europa), where a reminder drops
down from behind the station ident bug giving a
pictorial reminder about what is coming up next up to
30 minutes ahead, usually obscuring up to a quarter of
the viewing area! What none of the people behind all
this clutter realise is that all of these creatures are
not required. If anything they reduce viewing pleasure.
How often have you missed something because it got lost
behind a DOG, or not heard something because some
idiotic continuity announcement has blotted it out?
The whole point of things such as Electronic Viewing
Guides on digital boxes is to make channel navigation,
programme selection and so forth easy. At the touch of
a button, we can find out what is on, where, for how
long, what is next and whatever. There is no point to
the increasing amount of extraneous rubbish being stuck
on the screen.
As for advertising, companies need to curb their greed.
Adverts were meant to support the continued operation
of a television company, but not in addition
to subscriptions, and certainly not to the
exclusion of actual programming. If anything, I find
myself switching OFF during ad breaks, and all that
does is deny the advertisers their possible income.
©2003/4 Chris Johnson
Please note that this document is my own
view based on observation.