Why does the government want to kill Community TV?

It takes a special kind of cunning to first nobble the National Broadband Network, that if fully implemented might have been able to reliably deliver realtime high-definition video into homes…

…and then cancel community television licences, and demand those stations go online instead.

Obsolescence, sculpture in Bourke St Mall

This seems like a bad idea in many ways, not the least of which is that many of the disenfranchised and elderly members of our society who might use community TV may be less likely to have good quality internet connections.

Community TV doesn’t just broadcast programmes and issues that can’t get an airing on mainstream channels, it’s also a training ground for talent, and to help that happen, the broadcasts need to be easily found. Having them on free-to-air helps achieve this. Even fewer would watch if they were a hidden needle in the YouTube haystack.

It’d be a crying shame if these stations around the country could no longer broadcast, while the apparently precious broadcast spectrum is used for multiple stations which just play ads all day every day (SpreeTV, TVSN, Fresh Ideas, Extra, Extra 2).

One proposal was that community TV could take over unused SBS channel 31. Great idea! Nope — the Government says No. Why on earth are they so keen to get these channels off air?!

Commit To Community TV campaign

Bye bye to analogue TV

Analogue TV has been shut off in most parts of Australia in the last few months.

Sydney was yesterday morning, and one enterprising bloke managed to record the last moments of all five stations. Have a watch, it’s great. Note Channel 7 (top right) which actually marked it by playing an old animation. The others just went blank as if in some horror movie:

Channel 7 also made an effort when their Brisbane analogue signal ended back in May:

Melbourne makes the final switch-off next Tuesday at 9am.

I assume most people have switched already, and thankfully the household assistance package has meant people shouldn’t get left behind.

The extra channels should have been motivation enough for most of us. And the government’s motivation? Lots of revenue from selling off the old analogue spectrum.

The big question will be when we start to get more high definition (HD) channels. Will there be another switch date in the future when standard definition equipment is no longer supported? How many SD-only setups are out there, who can’t get ABC News 24, 7Mate, and GEM?

Oh and by the way, if you’re culling the duplicate channels in your tuner, you might like to know that SBS HD and SBS1 are not actually identical. SBS HD usually shows SBS1, but sometimes shows SBS2 for movies and sport and other programming that benefits from HD.

Only one thing puzzles me about the big digital switchover — why does officialdom call the old system “analog”, US spelling without the ue?

Update 10/12/2013:

Melbourne shut down, all channels:

Channel 7, which marked the occasion with archival footage:

Mad As Hell episode synopses getting pretty weird (here’s all of them for this year so far)

Those who have been paying attention might have noticed that the episode synopses for Shaun Micallef’s Mad As Hell (seen for instance in the Electronic Programme Guide on most TVs) have been getting weirder and weirder.

Courtesy of the ABC TV web site, here’s a summary of them this year so far (including the next couple of weeks’):

Mad As Hell episode synopsisEpisode 01:

Shaun Micallef is BACK and he’s MADDER than HELL. We really should have changed the name but it’d cost us a FORTUNE in letterheads and we’d have to change the show GRAPHICS which also runs into MONEY. Anyway, he’s back FOR A SECOND SERIES – that’s the POINT. And THIS TIME he KNOWS what he’s DOING (slightly).

Nominated for an AACTA and HAILED by Fairfax Media as the ’20th WORST show ON Australian TELEVISION.

Episode 02:

When Shaun’s racist neighbour Mr. Grealy invites him over to eat some Japanese, Shaun doesn’t know how to take it.

Episode 03:

When Francis asks Shaun if he can change a word in one of the scripts, Shaun kills him.

Episode 04:

A convention for people named ‘Peter’ goes horribly wrong when Shaun is mistakenly invited. And hydrochloric acid starts streaming from the sprinkler system.

Episode 05:

Mongoose. Winter is closing in. It is not safe. Go into hibernation. Further instructions to follow. Cobra.

Episode 06:

Yo! Join Kook and the Bambino tomorrow morning at 7am on 103.6 Smash FM for your chance to win $10 playing Puzzling Noise.

Episode 07:

Voula, if you are watching this, I am so sorry babe. Please do not let the trust we have built up over the last two weeks go to waste just because I screwed another chick. Call me? Stav.

Episode 08:

Winning numbers in Tatts’ Everybody Wins Lotto Draw No. 001: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15 16, 17, 18, 19, 20, 21, 22, 23, 24, 25, 26, 27, 28, 29, 30, 31, 32, 33, 34, 35, 36, 37, 38, 39 and 40.

Episode 09:

There’s a vampire loose in Las Vegas. No one believes or wants to believe it’s true. The police can’t stop him, people are dying, no one’s safe. How do you kill what’s already dead?

Not live, from studio 13 at Gordon Street

A little while ago I bought myself the Collected Shaun Micallef — a box set of numerous shows of his, including The Micallef P(r)ogram(me). The kids and I have been watching our way through it.

I remembered that I had gone to a recording of the show, but had no idea which episode it was. The other night it became very obvious that it had been the final episode of season 2 — in a sketch parodying The Price Is Right, there I was, in the audience.

In the audience at The Micallef Programme, 1999

Coincidentally last night we went to a recording of one of Shaun’s current series — Mad As Hell. We arrived about 5pm, and around half-an-hour later were let into a waiting area, then into the studio itself, with recording starting at about 6pm. With stops and starts and gaffs aplenty, it took until about 8pm to record the half-hour show.

It’ll air tonight.

Mad As Hell studio recording

Most unintentionally amusing moment: after numerous warnings to go to the toilet before recording started, the warm-up guy asked if there were any final questions before beginning, only to be faced with one gentleman piping up: “Is there time to urinate?” — he was whisked off to do so.

Best moment you won’t see on-screen: an audience member who is a musician from Morocco (who has just emigrated) being invited onto stage to play a guitar they’d found. He played a North African song which (if I got this right) is about a bloke who pays a dowry for a wife but is dudded by the father (who has dudded many suitors) and ends up alone.

I don’t think there were any shots of the audience filmed for the show, but the warm-up guy took a photo of part of the audience. I’m up the back, a blurry blob in the dark, waving.

Mad As Hell audience

Lots of fun… apparently they still need audiences for later in the season.

Every bomb you make / Every job you take

I’d forgotten this. A version of The Police’s stalker song Every Breath You Take — with new lyrics written by the Spitting Image team and sung by Sting. (Don’t be put off by Youtube’s preview frame — it’s not just a credits roll.)

There is some good stuff loosely in this genre these days, but I’m not sure we’ve got the level of no-holds-barred satire that Spitting Image and even our own Gillies Report provided.

Here’s a thought: even if Apartheid were still around, would they be able to broadcast Never Met A Nice South African now?