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 aggravated...

Expanding Advert Breaks

Tedius Campaignii

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!

Advert break pie
DOG Animation


DOG's or Bugs

Buggius Digitalus

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 Well, receiver technology developed to the point where such arguments were no longer valid, but far from killing these bugs off, the critters are actually breeding!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?

Red Buttons

Rubius Ruddinuisance

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!

A red button
Coming up animation

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).

Sciffi TV


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 unwatchable!

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.
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