Blocking Fox

Television news is some of the worst of the poor material generally available around the dial. Is is usually devoid of adequate context, sophomoric in analysis, and biased. This is pretty much guaranteed by the limited time available to present any particular story or subject.
So, while the Foxblocker is entertaining when viewed from a partisan stance I’d carry Jazz’s suggestion “that you may want to get one if you have children” just a bit farther.
If possible, do not allow your children to watch any television news. If you can’t stop it entirely then make sure you are with them and that you discuss each story in detail. Treat it pretty much like any other X-rated material.
One caveat to the above: when there are major events that are given continous extended coverage most of the news channels seem to do a pretty decent job (the networks tend to go back to regularly scheduled programming too soon). It is best, even during extended coverage, to switch networks regularly. Spend 5-15 minute at each stop. You can learn from both the differences in commentary and camera shots and this can provide plenty of fodder for family discussions.

Government Helping the Needy

I know some of you have probably forked over big bucks for that new HDTV set and are enjoying some excellent picture quality. I haven’t and have yet to see one at a size and price point that makes me say, “I have got to have that.” And, I also haven’t seen the value in buying that digital cable package. Basic does just fine for the few hours a week that I watch TV.
Since there are apparently a lot of other folks like me out and about our ever helpful federal government is accelerating its work on behalf of big electronics:

It’s one of the biggest technical changes in television since color TV: the digital transition. And because many Americans remain in the dark about it, federal regulators began an education campaign Monday to enlighten them.
Remind me, please, just why it was congress needed to set a target date for “all digital” and why the FCC needs to be spending tax money to act as the marketing arm for the electronics industry in what seems no more than a wealth transfer exercise.
When the perceived value hits the right point people will buy the stuff in droves.

Fox News Amazing Success

Well, not really. Here’s the story:

For the first time in its history, Fox News Channel beat the combined competition in primetime during the third quarter of 2004, with major headlines of the summer including the national political conventions and a brutal string of hurricanes.
According to Nielsen Media Research, Fox News averaged 1.8 million viewers, while CNN, MSNBC, CNBC and Headline News averaged a combined total of 1.7 million. The quarter ended Sunday.

Paul, posting at Wizbang, tells us:
I’ll probably have to defend this point later but this really shows that FoxNews is not the “far right wing” that the liberals love to call it. In fact, the opposite is true. When a single news source gets over half of all viewers, it is, by definition, in sync with the population at large.
He’s right a little defense is in order.
Let’s see, the US population is somewhat over 294 million. About 1.7 million watched Fox. That works out to a little over 1/2 per cent of the population. Hardly what I’d call “in sync with the population at large” and clearly Fox, while large in comparison to other cable news channels, is serving a pretty small niche market. It is not at all unreasonable to think this audience is primarily of one particular persuasion.
Update (9/29): Paul defends by saying “…the defense writes itself.” I don’t see any sign of it though….

Olympic Bitching

Well, the Olympics have barely started and world class complainers are already at it.
I admit to near hating the coverage of the past two Olympics. But early on I have no complaints at all about this one.
First, if I had not been at work this morning I could have watched the opening ceremonies live on CBUT. Since I wasn’t I watched large chunks on NBC/CBUT tonight. The two networks were enough out of synch with each other that if we missed something on CBUT we could switch over to NBC a bit later and see it. I thought the ceremonies were fine. Excellent music, fine artistry, great graphics and lots of athletes. It was just fine.
Second, I’m now watching live rowing. Hey, I’ve been watching live rowing for 1.5 hours now. This is more live rowing then, I think, have been shown in the last two Olympics combined. The announcers have been ok, if a bit slow keeping up with the action on the course. Oh, there has not been a single long human interest story yet.
If to today turns out to be exemplary of the rest of the coverage I’m going to be very unhappy about being on a traveling vacation over the next week instead glued to the TV. I will, though, enjoy the vacation.
PS: Yea, I agree with Tim Duncan’s assessment of the NBC announcers. But, hey, we just went to other coverage when they got too misdirected.

TV Creativity

Kudos to Fox for pointing out the obvious:

NBC and ABC have accused Fox of stealing their ideas, and Fox has fired back, saying it’s just part of the game.
Lawrence Lessig suggests that this copycat activity will make for better shows:
Competition over derivatives only makes the derivatives better.
I suppose there is something to this argument. Especially when considering the starting points:
NBC won the rights to “The Contender,” a reality show about boxing. Two months later, Fox launched a similar show called “The Next Great Champ.”
ABC has a program called “Wife Swap,” in which two wives switch houses. Fox then launched a series called “Trading Spouses: Meet Your New Mommy.”
And who can forget “Popstars” and “Making the Band,” which all came before the even-more successful “American Idol”?
Yes, the latter may have been superior to its precursors and some of you may like this stuff but I’m quite happy to have temptation so dramatically reduced by the fine quality of this material. It seems not that many years ago that I watched 2-3 shows every night (Saturday usually being the most difficult to find something interesting) and now its down to 2-3 shows per week and shrinking.
I must admit to a bit of prevarication here. Over the past two weeks I have spent a couple hours daily watching OLN’s somewhat flawed Tour de France coverage (of which, more in another post later this week).