Station ID bugs on PREMIUM channels

Discussion in 'Archived Threads 2001-2004' started by Mitty, Jun 24, 2001.

  1. Mitty

    Mitty Supporting Actor

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    I don't know about pay TV channels in the U.S., but here in Canada (specifically, Western Canada), we have a series of movie channels which are sold as a package of 4-6 channels, divided up by genre and vintage. These are, I suppose, the Canadian equivalent of HBO, AMC, TMC, etc. Of course, they are premium channels, you have to pay a monthly subscription for these services, not to mention renting/buying the equipment to receive them...
    ...and now they're using station bugs.
    I'm stunned. I can't believe it. Do HBO, AMC, etc use these? I can't believe they have the nerve considering what people pay for these channels. The arrogance never ends.
    Next up is Pay Per View. I just know that within the next couple of years, we will see bugs on PPV broadcasts.
     
  2. John Berggren

    John Berggren Producer

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    HBO and Showtime both use intermittent bugs. They also occassionally interrupt the credits with ads, depending on the program. This helps them with station identification and helps the studios protect against bootlegging.
    Seems silly to me, but that's the world we live in.
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  3. Jakob Brzovic

    Jakob Brzovic Auditioning

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    Actually, up here in Canada they HAVE started bugging PPV telecasts. Me and a few buddies got the King of the Ring PPV today and a couple of times during the broadcast I noticed that the Veiwers Choice bug was in the bottom right. I personally think that it is ridiculas.
    I mean seriously, I know what channel I'm watching. I don't need to be reminded.
    Regards,
    Jake
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  4. Gord Lacey

    Gord Lacey Cinematographer

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    I have emailed Movie Central 19 times from various email accounts and called them twice. They don't care what we think of the bug, and I don't think they're going to change it. A lady I spoke to said that people enjoy the bugs because then they know what they're watching, and other channels have it. I told her that people are idiots if they can't look at their cable box and see the channel number, and other channels aren't premium movie channels that people pay good money for!
    I've only seen the bug on "The Sopranos" (BIG, UGLY BUG!!), has it been on anything else that I may have missed?
    Gord
     
  5. Patrick Sun

    Patrick Sun Moderator
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  6. Jack Briggs

    Jack Briggs Executive Producer

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    Gord: Whenever someone with a station tells you people "like" these fuc### damn bugs because they let you know which channel you're watching, ask this question: Why don't you show the bugs when there are commercials? (Stumps 'em every time.)
    I stopped subscribing to all premium channels last year, mostly in deference to their ongoing practice of showing films in only pan-and-scan (movie facsimilies, in other words). But I did notice that Showtime was making frequent use of the bugs--and interrupting the credit roles with commercials.
    Of the film channels I still watch, TCM intermittently shows a bug--but in letterboxed presentations, the channel has the decency to show the logo in the bottom black bar. Even still, it's trashy. Sundance and IFC are both showing the bugs intermittently, but IFC sometimes runs it throughout an entire film (and they also are showing films in pan and scan).
    Fox Movie Channel hasn't run a bug yet. But they've also started doing pan and scan.
    The networks don't care what we think. Only political action will put an end to this odious practice. Jason Seaver makes excellent arguments against political solutions, but at this point I'd love to see a "clean," bug-free television picture. I can't watch the Discovery Channel at all anymore--that damn bug is huge--and it moves. I figure it must occupy something like 5-8 percent of the screen.
    The History Channel's bright yellow bug always has me worried about phosphor burn-in.
    Other than only the most selected programming, what is there to watch? The trash and clutter we put up with these days is untenable--the logos, the program rating, the close-captioning logo, etc.
    It's gonna get worse. And I don't think it's ever going to get better, short of Washington weighing in.
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  7. Mitty

    Mitty Supporting Actor

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    That "people enjoy them" line is pure horseshit, a bald-faced lie, a "positioning statement" that some people in a board room came up with. Naturally, it's an inarguable response, as all positioning statements are intended to be. I like Jack's suggestion vis-a-vis why they don't use it during commercials. The person I emailed gave that exact line as a reply, and I replied back that he please do me the service of not insulting my intelligence. Also, other channels are "free" so to speak. I don't pay $20+ a month for NBC or the CBC.
    I subscribe to watch The Sopranos. Season #3 will be over in mid-July and I'll be cancelling all premium services if they don't remove them. They won't of course, and this is not a hollow threat. I've told them as much.
    Here in Canada, there have been some consumer advocate groups that contend that station ID bugs are indeed advertising and, as such, their use should be regulated by the CRTC. The CRTC, to my knowledge, has been mum on the issue thus far, but eventually they will have to address it.
    People enjoy them. [​IMG] My god that pisses me off.
     
  8. Jack Briggs

    Jack Briggs Executive Producer

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    Well, Mitty, at least you have someone up there making noises about these atrocious bugs. Other than the occasional "Jeer" in TV Guide magazine, I can't think of anyone down here saying anything about the bugs, much less doing something about them.
    It's perpetual advertising. "Branding." Some of these bugs serve as small "bulletin boards." VH-1 is particularly bad about that.
    The Discovery Channel has also taken to the practice of showing its "Web markers" during the programming. Loudly drowning out a program's audio, musical notes signal a Web marker message. Then the entire programming is squeezed into a scrunched-up frame, distorting the images, while the Web marker nonsense takes up the bottom third of the screen. Advertising within advertising--on a damn channel for which we pay as part of the cable package.
    Mark my words, it will get worse. The only solution I see happening is when a congressman or some other politico finds out his or her expensive projection TV has been ruined by the burnt-in image of a History Channel logo.
    This is arrogance.
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  9. Jason Seaver

    Jason Seaver Lead Actor

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  10. Marianne

    Marianne Supporting Actor

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    Even worse than the bug that just sits there - they now have bugs that advertise upcoming programs, etc. I was watching TNT last night (I don't usually BTW) and the bug was incredibly annoying.
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  11. Mark Kalzer

    Mark Kalzer Second Unit

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    While I won't go so far as to refuse to watch certain programming because of them, I do have absolotuly no use for them, since my satellite dish tells me what channel I'm watching anyway.
     
  12. Jack Briggs

    Jack Briggs Executive Producer

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  13. Jason Seaver

    Jason Seaver Lead Actor

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    First Amendment. Squashed. [​IMG] Besides, networks can somewhat-reasonably ask what hardware manufacturers are doing producing equipment that can be damaged by a large portion of what's being broadcast?
    The time to act in terms of regulation was three or four years ago, when the FCC could have asked for it as part of the package that got stations the HDTV frequencies for free.
    Now, I think the best chance is to create alternate means of distribution. Convince producers that you'll be willing to purchase or rent DVDs (or even VHSs) to avoid having the bug. Considering what scripted television costs to produce nowadays, it's absurd that video releases aren't automatic, anyway. This, of course, involves a certain amount of financial outlay, but if you're not willing to put your money where your mouth is...
     
  14. Andrew Beacom

    Andrew Beacom Supporting Actor

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    >>The Discovery Channel has also taken to the practice of showing its "Web markers" during the programming. Loudly drowning out a program's audio, musical notes signal a Web marker message. Then the entire programming is squeezed into a scrunched-up frame, distorting the images, while the Web marker nonsense takes up the bottom third of the screen.
     
  15. Jack Briggs

    Jack Briggs Executive Producer

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    Agreed. What a trashy practice.
    As for Jason's comment--of course, he's correct to point to the First Amendment. Given my line of work, I staunchly defend same.
    Is this, however, truly a First Amendment issue? I know whatever attorneys who'd represent the networks would say so. But is it, really?
    This really is a case of an industry going at direct odds to the public. It's almost now a can't-fight-city-hall kind of issue.
    What if a massive public campaign somehow took root?
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  16. Jason Seaver

    Jason Seaver Lead Actor

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  17. Mitty

    Mitty Supporting Actor

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    A friend of mine who works as a supervisor in customer service at our local cable provider told me yesterday that they have received dozens of complaints every day for the past couple of weeks since "Movie Central" and all of it's spin off channels started using ID bugs.
    Of course, complaining to your cable company isn't exactly going right to the source, since it's not their fault. So, I went to the stations website, wrote down their email, street address, telephone number, and fax number and emailed them to him to distribute to his reps.
    He said that a fair percentage of the complaints are from people with projection TVs, worried that it will ruin their display. Evidently a lot of them also expressed that they felt the premium price charged for these channels puts them above this sort of thing.
    So, at least this early in the game, people aren't apathetic about it.
     
  18. MickeS

    MickeS Producer

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    quote:
    How would the government trying to regulate content not be a First Amendment issue?
    [/quote]
    The station bug isn't really "content" though, is it?
    Personally, the bugs don't bother me much, got used to them in Sweden (where they're even less useful, IMO!). But for premium or PPV I'd prefer they not be there.
    /Mike
     
  19. Jack Briggs

    Jack Briggs Executive Producer

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  20. Jason Seaver

    Jason Seaver Lead Actor

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