Tuesday, August 31, 2010

News from bird brains

I frequently refer to Sky News Australia as “News for Parrots” because the focus of every story is Australia—no matter how tenuous, irrelevant or superficial the connection. For example, yesterday their reports that I saw on their channel about the Emmy Awards were only about how Australians did.

The truly annoying thing Sky News Australia does is that they frequently pre-empt world news—or even real news of their own—for fluff. Today was the worst example yet: They interrupted the nightly ABC News (US) for “Breaking News”. They didn’t wait for a commercial break, but instead interrupted right in the middle of an ABC News report.

And what was the earth-shattering, shocking news that required such an abrupt interruption? It’s been ten years since the opening of the Sydney Olympics. Seriously! Some guy talking about how it’s been ten years and reciting a list of commemorative events was so very much more important than ABC News’ reports on how Iraq will fare when they’re fully in charge of security in their country. I swear the folks making their editorial decisions have parrot-sized brains in real life.

Sky News Australia is a pretty amateur news channel, but it’s our only 24-hour local choice (we also have the Fox Propaganda Channel, bland, shallow CNN or BBC World, which while excellent is usually not a straightforward news broadcast). I watch Sky News Australia mostly to see the nightly newscasts from ABC News (US) and/or CBS News.

The reason that I always refer to it as Sky News Australia, even though our screens read “Sky News New Zealand”, is that there’s nothing New Zealand about it, apart from the rare news report and Question Time from Parliament three days a week most weeks. They used to have a weekly “New Zealand News Week” segment, but I don’t know if they do that anymore.

It’s probably just as well. Sky News Australia is focused so thoroughly on superficial fluff from Australia that it’s best we’re not associated with it; we wouldn’t want folks to think that we’re as shallow as they are.


toujoursdan said...

One of my biggest annoyances about the CBC News Network is that it does the exact same thing. They will play up the most obscure Canadian angle on every story. It's Canadian this and Canadian that. Ugh. It must have to do with being in the American/British news glare.

I've heard mixed reviews of TVNZ7. What do you think of it?

(Speaking of Kiwi TV, I have really been enjoying the torrents of "This is Not My Life". Nice to see a decent quality NZ show that actually makes one think.)

Roger Owen Green said...

So do they steal the Breaking News music from the AmeriNZ podcast?[

The few times I've seen the CBC News, I thought the world coverage was, on the whole, pretty good, though I agree that even then (this was about 7 years ago when I was in Niagara Falls, MY), parochial interests would pop up -as though to say, "We are NOT the 51st state AND the Queen is just a figurehead, thank you." I rather understand the chip on their shoulder re the US in particular.

toujoursdan said...

The CBC's world news coverage is pretty good (far better than the U.S. networks), but the News Network (which is CBC's 24 hour news channel) often pads its airtime with stories of Canadians doing Canadian things in Canadian ways, which aren't all that newsworthy if they happened in the UK or US.

Arthur Schenck said...

toujoursdan: I think the temptation for a non-international broadcaster to pursue the purely parochial is huge. And New Zealand's broadcasters do it too sometimes, but for TVNZ (what I watch), it's far less frequent—noticeable for being the exception, I suppose.

I never watched TVNZ7 or TVNZ6 when we had Freeview (now stored because we have a separate pay TV Sky decoder—long story). I wasn't keen on watching them when they came to Sky because they debuted "TVNZ Heartland" ONLY on Sky, not the free platform.

However, I've seen some programs on TVNZ7 and thought they were pretty good. They also have coverage of politics, the media and—in a special series—science that you simply won't find anywhere else. So, I think it has real value, from what I've seen.

I know less about TVNZ6 and Heartland, both of which I've yet to watch.

I don't watch "This is Not My Life" because I missed the first episode, recorded it on re-broadcast, but couldn't get into it. I found it too slow and requiring too much of a time commitment from me; this is the same reason I never watched "Lost", and like that programme, I have no idea whether I'd like it or not. So, my not watching it isn't any kind of slam against it—it's just not me.

Roger: If they did steal the music, they ought to credit whoever I stole it from…

NZ and Australia have a similar relationship in that they're much bigger than we are, but we actually take very little notice of what the Aussies say or do, and we rarely pay any attention to what they say about us, unless we're making fun of them (or politicians think they can score an advantage, but that's another subject).

I wonder if the fact that we're such a long way from Australia is part of the reason our relationship with them is so very different from that of Canada and the US. Guess there's no way to test that question.