Friday, August 08, 2008

Free to air knowledge


Special Broadcasting Service

Six Billion Stories.

Am putting in a plug, a recommendation, for one of our 'local' (as in Australian) free to air Television Stations. They seem to have embarked on a policy of loading the daytime programming with documentaries. Love knowledge, it, and them. Almost Joy; they've changed the charter to allow intrusive advertisements for irrelevant commercial enterprises in the middle of deeply insightful, bitingly incisive documentaries – which sort of dilutes the impact, somewhat.

Sorry folks, as someone who has, some time ago, spent much time standing on the stage and behind the scenes of the “theatrical” industry, can no longer tolerate 'commercial' TV programming – Info-mercials, soppy series, soap-operas, american franchise dramas. Can see the wheels turning, know every bell, whistle and fakery behind the fa├žade of pre-programmed, “scripted” 'drama'.

Theatrics?? Hoo boy, the Roman Church understood, understands, and uses the principle well. There was a saying among us stagey-type nitwits. To be successful, we have to create “willing suspension of dis-belief”. Heh heh heh. Organised and expensive Pageantry, Magnificent Settings, Opulent Costumes; simple, tried and reliable script; repeated ad infinitum, intone some incomprehensible “Mystical” Language (in domino patre, per yesum christum dominum nostrum), .. am not surprised that the illiterate peasants were enthralled (and threw their hard earned money at it).

Competition? Nah, not really. Heaps of different versions .. but 1700 years of simple, constantly repeated indoctrination will always resonate with the human desire for basic stability.

Anyway, is one of the reasons am a bit odd, enamoured of documentary TV. Thirst for knowledge. Yup, know that “impressions” can be created by judicious editing of “reality” .. can, with this computer, manipulate images to say whatever I want - but the basic images - technical quality irrelevant - the individual stories, the insight into other countries, societies, lives and people .. can't get enough of 'em.

One of the things that am discovering, though, is that documentaries are not easy. Takes a great deal of courage, patience, persistence and a certain amount of skill. Depends on the permission of the real people one wants to document.

Intimate moments in time, recorded for posterity.

Same with the local ABC - Australian Broadcasting Corporation – (mm, and here's me thinking it was the Australian Broadcasting Commission .. was it once? When did it become a “corporation”? Semantic point, but “corporations” are entities set up to make money. Have trouble trying to think of “our” ABC as a “corporation”, or last time the ABC actually made a profit [in dollar terms] since their budget used to be, still is, purely and simply granted from the Common Wealth of Australia by the good graces of the popularly elected Federal Treasurer of the day.)

Can't, at this point, quite figure out why both of them can't call for “subscriptions”. Would, personally, out of a now minuscule budget, be more than happy to contribute at least $AU50.00 per year, to view. So, even if they have a viewership of say 2% out of 5 million (yeah, i know, population of Aust is 20 mill .. but how many own TV sets?) .. sort of gets to $AU5 mill .. enough to buy a few more docos - or mini-serious with Australian scripts .. dunno, never was much good at maths, nor economics .. heh.



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