Paying for television or buying advertising?

ARE we paying for television or simply buying advertising? Judging by content on SABC’s three channels and eTV, the almost “free-to-air” channels, consumers are getting very little for their money. If one compares the amount of content available to DSTV subscribers, the terrestrial services are falling way behind, creating a “consumption gap” that will affect South Africans for years to come.

Think about it — the differential between those with access to global, satellite television and those without, is producing a new phenomena related to asymetrical viewership — our interpretation of news, events and information is changing, as terrestrial peasants are left behind by more digital sophisticates, proud of their knowledge of MTV trivia, and hooked to the Discovery Channel.

Isn’t it time that we brought public access television to the foreground? Don’t license holders have a say over what is broadcast? Instead of providing access to consumers, and space for them to become producers, the passive reception of information via television has turned into a plague of advertising, as we become increasingly brainwashed by brands and agency ethics.

When last did you have a conversation with anyone that didn’t end with that blank look people get from watching too much television? Surely time to go out there and create the news instead of watching life go by? Public Access Television, on a first-come, first-served basis would allow young videographers, handycam artists, and media amateurs to showcase their talents.

In California, where Public Access was spurred on by the introduction of cable, virtually anybody can have a chat-show, usually late at night, after normal programming ends, but you get the picture. If we are the ones paying the taxes, then we should be the ones who get to decide, unless of course, SABC admits the impossible — big advertising agencies own our media?


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