A 2010 Wishlist For Australian TV Networks

A 2010 Wishlist For Australian TV Networks

It’s tough making money in TV these days, and new technology threatens to disrupt the entire business model the box has long been based on. But that’s no excuse for not doing a better job. Here’s five things the local TV networks (especially the commercial ones) could do to make life sweeter for everyone in 2010.

Picture by rooreynolds

5. Stop starting programs 5 minutes late (or worse)

TV networks routinely run shows over schedule, in the hope that people won’t then switch channels to watch something better as soon as the program they actually wanted to watch finishes. In the era of hard-drive recorders, this is a monumentally stupid strategy. More tellingly, it’s just another incentive to ignore the channels all together and access TV by other means.

4. Stop shunting programs all over the schedule

Loyal viewers are a core asset for any program, or station. Running a show at a different time each week, and bouncing it every time there’s a movie or sporting event that doesn’t fit the timeslot, won’t build any loyalty. And while once this might have meant never seeing the show or begging friends overseas to send taped copies, now it just means heading to the nearest BitTorrent client. Audiences are shrinking, why annoy them further?

3. Stop copying each other

TV has always been a cyclical business: if reality formats are successful, everyone wants one. The buzz for 2010 seems to be variety shows: after blockbuster ratings for the Hey Hey! reunions, every network wants a similar show. But that doesn’t mean viewers want that. Taking a chance on something new would be a much wiser strategy.

2. Stop copying yourself

As Mumbrella neatly put it earlier this year: It’s called Nine because that’s how many times a week they show Two And A Half Men. Also: no more Eddie McGuire, please. Show some mercy.

1. Launch a commercial version of iView

While commercial TV has made limited forays into online streaming, there’s nothing that remotely resembles the usefulness or comprehensiveness of the ABC’s iView. What we need is an Australian version of Hulu, where we can catch up with programming from across the channels when the schedule doesn’t suit us (or, as per the first two points in this list, doesn’t mean anything anyway). Yes, getting rights to some overseas shows might be difficult. Yes, network sales staff will have to co-operate. The medium is changing. The networks need to change with it.

What’s on your TV wishlist for 2010? Share your ideas in the comments.


  • TV shows run over time because the networks keep squeezing in the extra ads.

    Master Chef was a good example of self copying.
    Master Chef, the first one, was great! Basically. ordinary people in a cook off. It rated through the roof.
    Then the network was like “Hey, that was successful, lets do Celebrity Master Chef!”
    Did anybody watch that?
    I remember seeing commercials and thinking “That show still on?”
    I for one dont care about celebrities doing things out of their ordinary.

    Now, with the failure of Celebrity Master Chef, I dont see the regular Master Chef rating too well next year.
    Oversaturation = Boredom

    • I no longer watch commercial TV (including SBS) live. I record my favourite shows to my hard drive, edit out the ads and then watch them on my TV at a time that suits me. They’ve only got themselves to blame for the current state of affairs.

  • Yea the only show i watch now of tv is spicks and specks. Everything else i get from other means. I mean i only just found out that 10 is now showing the office and i thought awsome but as soon as i checked it out i noticed it was old episodes. I look forward to the day that a private company sets up a hulu type service for australia which grabs the episodes as the come out in the us. Then maybe the big bosses of 9, ect will give themselves a big facepalm and say “Showing stuff that they want to watch and minimising the stuff they don’t want to watch. Its so simple. Boy are we dumb”.

  • How about ensuring the electronic programme guides are a LOT more accurate. With units like the TiVo and others making more intelligent use of the data in the EPG, a 99.9% accuracy rate should be essential.
    Otherwise – just as with shows running long – the effectiveness of all these PVR’s are reduced based on the inaccurate data they are fed.

    • If I had a clean and accurate EPG, that would resolve many issues for me. If stations ran over time or started late, as long as the EPG was correct, I’d still get the complete programme I wanted to watch (5 minutes late? I’ve had to record programs with a 15 minute over-run because a 10 minute over-run stilll chops off the end of the programme). I’m looking at you Channel 7, followed closely by Channel 9.

      Consistent programme naming would help with shunting programme schedules for me because I use my PVR to record programmes. The problem is that “Programme Name – New Time” won’t match “Programme Name” by default on my PVR, therefore I miss out on the episode which has a new schedule. I then miss out on “Programme Name – Season Finale” because that also won’t match. I’m looking at you again, Channel 7.

      More useful programme naming would also help. I don’t care about “Saturday Night at the Movies”. If you’re going to make it difficult for me to see the movie name, it’s not going to catch my eye while I’m browsing the EPG. That’s why I haven’t watched any movie on Channel 9 this year. Your loss, not mine.


    • The advent of PVRs (actually didn’t it start with VCR?) is what is upsetting commercial television. Stations have to show the ads to cover the cost of buying/producing the content, now that we are recording and skipping the ads, advertisers are not getting the same return. The stations have had to do something to try and get people to watch.

      While it does annoy the heck out of me too, I understand the need for the ads, what erks me is that I pay for Foxtel – PayTV because it used to be almost completely ad-free, now, they are almost worse than free-to-air, the selection of decent viewing is diminishing and the costs are going up.

      My wish: stop showing half a season of something decent, then take a break for 4 months because it is nolonger rating season. 5 year old movies that have been repeated 20 times or 2 and a half men are not what should be shown to fill in time.

  • Getting rights to overseas shows shouldn’t be an excuse for Australian networks – buying the rights will be a much smaller challenge to them than producing shows of equivalent value.

    I’m sick of such repeated shows as Border Security (and it’s competitor, Border Patrol), Bondi Vet and Bondi Rescue being shown. Every episode is exactly the same. They don’t even have to change the names of the ‘characters’, because they’re never revealed.

    I’m just waiting for ‘State Border Security’, or even ‘Supermarket and Shopping Mall Security’ to appear in Channel 7’s repertoire of televisional delicacies, featuring the same incriminating vegetables and misplaced market produce as seen in Border Security. Perhaps they could branch out (and by ‘branch out’, I mean ‘devolve’) from The Force, to ‘Traffic Wardens: Keeping Our Streets Safe’, or the more academically-themed: ‘University of Sydney Campus Security’.

  • Can I add… show the current season. One way to get new viewers is to show the new episodes as they are released. This is one of the primary drivers for people getting their fix elsewhere.

  • They should stop showing spoiler-trailers. And stop telling me ‘someone will die’ or I ‘won’t believe what happens’. They should stop talking to me like I’m a child >:(

  • I aired this gripe with you a couple of months ago angus, thanks for refining it.

    I’ve got two to add:

    Don’t advertise a movie coming on, and then change it to sports.

    Distinguish in the program guide between repeats and a new season.

  • I’m told that networks in the US have to comply to the advertised program times by law – since Australian networks can’t seem to regulate themselves to starting on time, maybe the broadcast authorities should start enforcing some rules.
    The public (taxpayers) own the airwaves, the networks only have a license to use it.

  • How about the old chestnut of the commercial audio.

    I know the volumes are with in guidelines, because when people complain about it, advertising companies come out and say, “We don’t exceed maximum volume levels, we just keep the volume at the maximum for the entire ad.”

    In short, change the rules, we’ll still find a way around it to piss you off.

    This should definitely be regulated.

  • A Free EPG (Electronic Program Guide) including a XML based web version, enforced to run to schedule would solve most peoples gripes.

    Right now the TV stations think that their Program Guides are an item to sell and make some money on. What they need to change to think that this is what their consumers are basing their choices on. Would you choose hard to get and inacurate information over easy and correct?

    My Solution for the past few years (I can’t believe it has been that long) is Digital TV Tuners in your PC & DV Scheduler.

    Auto schedules are based on EPG program titles which are configurable. The only down side is geting a good EPG source.

  • – If your going to show LIVE SPORT, then show the whole event. In particular the, FIFA Club World Cup, on ONEHD. In the final game, show the award ceremony, and the whole coverage and not just stop the LIVE coverage to show some old repeat of a Sport News show.

    So frustrated they did that.

  • Why don’t they just do a deal with foxtel and integrate their EPG with foxtel IQ. We very rarely watch commercial TV nowadays, as we’ve got foxtel IQ, but we do still watch a lot of ABC & SBS because they are on the foxtel program guide.We have digital TV set-up box and all it takes is press of button to switch over, but its just too much effort !!
    When we had foxtel by cable, while 7,9 and 10 weren’t on the EPG we could at least watch it on foxtel as we flicked through the channels, but with sattelite its not an option.

Show more comments

Log in to comment on this story!