Archives for posts with tag: Television

I love a good heteronym, don’t you? A heteronym is two versions of the same spelled word that mean different things but are pronounced differently. In this blog post title, I’m referring to the word ‘live’ as in ‘we’re live in 10 seconds’, not as in ‘we live here’.

This post is not really about language, though, it’s about decision-making and about how mass communication has changed these days. I was talking to a neighbour of mine the other day. He’s a cameraman for a TV station here in Ireland. He was explaining how TV has gone. Many people now watch their drama in box sets or via piped, on demand television. The only currency in television nowadays, he said, was in live news and live sports. People still need to live in the moment and experience the present tense as it unfolds.

My neighbour is in the news business and was getting exasperated in a team meeting about a news item. A decision was not forthcoming and time was running out. ‘Look,’ he said, ‘either we go live, or go home.’ So succinct really. We’re in the live news business, we either get out there and film this thing or we’re done for the day, otherwise we miss the window, the moment has gone.

If you’re in the business of producing television, you either go live or you go home. Currency is the currency.

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I don’t watch much television. I don’t have the time or the staying power for box sets. I like to catch the occasional film and will watch most sport if it’s on.

When there’s nothing grabbing my attention, I will flick channels. I flick them relentlessly. I’m an inveterate flicker. And do you know what usually stops me and holds my attention? BBC Four.

BBC Four is a wonder. Its documentaries, especially the music-based ones, are extremely sticky for me.

The best compliment I can pay BBC Four is that it’s like the web. It’s a black hole. You can lose yourself in BBC Four for hours. I don’t know how many times I’ve promised myself 10 minutes of TV time before bed, chanced upon a 70’s collection of Old Grey Whistle Test clips of legendary bands or musicians, and lost a couple of hours. BBC Four tends to do themed programming, so if you find something you like, there could well be a similar program to follow.

Yes, on balance, I think BBC Four is the best television channel, possibly in the world, though I’m judging it from my limited sample size.

Even though I live in the Republic of Ireland, my browser home page is always set to the BBC. It really is a very good website indeed. The broadcasting institution has undergone quite a few changes of late, but if you’re British it’s an inescapable and vital part of your life.

Here are 7 reasons why the BBC rocks:

– No ads.  Even though I’m in marketing, I love watching television on the BBC because you’re guaranteed uninterrupted coverage and no falsely imposed breaks of flow or thought.  You get ads on the BBC website if you view it from overseas, but who cares? That’s routine behaviour on the web

– Great value for money with the license fee. The quality of programming is still peerless. In Ireland you pay a similar license fee – and you still get ads. With Sky you pay a monthly subscription – quite a high one – and amazingly you still get ads, which I would find infuriating and a bit of a con

– Accessible to people in Ireland under a range of subscription arrangements, so us expats don’t have to go without

– Fantastic music montages. No-one caps off a televised event with a montage as good as the BBC’s

– Still the best documentaries around.  History, music, you name it

– Superb natural history content. OK, so I’m biased here and my brother does work in this area, but it’s still superb

– Flawless sports coverage and camera work. Think 6 Nations, the British Open, Wimbers…

They’re not perfect, but my they’re pretty close to it.

I do have a gripe that on the website you can’t see certain sporting footage because of licensing arrangements and you get the ‘UK viewers only’ message, but it’s a small gripe.

The phrase ‘thanks to the unique way the BBC is funded’ is sometimes used as a stick to beat the Beeb with. Not by me. We don’t know how lucky we are.