Friday, December 01, 2006

Annoying Programme Interruptions (APIs)

I turned on TVB's English channel soon after 8am this morning and found it relaying CCTV Channel 9 news. Switched to ATV, and they were carrying exactly the same programme.

Now I have nothing against China Central Television. The days when their "news" programming consisted largely of happy red-scarved peasants celebrating bumper rice harvests thanks to the all-encompasssing wisdom of Chairman Mao are long gone, and while I wouldn't trust their impartiality on topics like the Dalai Lama's latest speech or the pros and cons of Taiwanese independence, most of their English language news coverage is as professional as anyone else's.

But if Hong Kong is going to license two terrestrial broadcasters, shouldn't they make some effort to carry different programmes? Otherwise why do we need more than one?

However, that's not the most irritating thing about Hong Kong television. Nor, annoying though it is, is TVB's habit of giving away the key plot points of films in the trailers they show. (At least it saves you having to spend time watching the actual movie.)

No, that distinction belongs to the so-called "Announcements of Public Interest" (APIs). Now some of these carry perfectly harmless and even useful public information, like reminders to register for upcoming elections, or that it's your age group's turn to change your ID card for the new smart card.

What pisses me off are the fuzzy pointless ads that tell you things everyone with half a brain doesn't need to be told: "be a happy family" or "be good to your children". Is it really necessary to spend the taxpayers' money on this kind of stuff? Does the government imagine that someone watching this will experience a sudden epiphany and think, "Oh, I should really be good to my kids - I never realised that before"?

Where do they think this is - Singapore?

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