Saturday, January 06, 2018

Local Schlock

Well, it seems That's Crapchester and its sister stations still can't make their minds up as to whether they local news channels or repositories of vintage movies.  After having switched back to their regular news programming yesterday evening, I found that, this morning, they had switched back to the old movies.  By six o'clock this evening they had switched back.  According to the TV's electronic schedule, they should now be permanently back to their regular schedule.  But it was claiming that yesterday, too.  I'm now eagerly waiting to see what they actually end up showing tomorrow.   Now, I'll be perfectly happy if they maintain a daytime schedule of old movies of the kind they showed over Christmas and New Year: they're my kind of schlock.  However, it would rather undermine the basis upon which their broadcasting licences were awarded: the provision of local TV service, primarily local news.

Unfortunately, as most of the UK's local news franchises have found - regardless of their ownership - finding sufficient locally produced content isn't easy.  Finding such content which attracts sufficient viewers to generate decent advertising revenues is even more difficult.  I recall that when That's Crapchester launched, we were promised all manner of local programming.  So far it hasn't materialised.  Instead, we've had continuous local news programmes, which tend to recycle the same half dozen stories continuously over a twenty four hour period.  I know that several other local franchises resorted to deals with Talking Pictures TV to simulcast their content during the daytime and at one point the That's family of channels was planning to do this, also.  This was good for Talking Pictures TV as they weren't available nationally on Freeview when they deals were struck, so it would increase their audience reach whilst providing the local channels with content which might attract viewers.  But that situation changed when, late last year, Talking Pictures TV achieved near national coverage, so viewers in those areas it didn't previously reach no longer need the local TV  simulcast to view its content.

Which, presumably, is why That's Crapchester and its sisters have been running those public domain films - sourced via an Australian content provider, interestingly - instead.  Of course, some of these local channels have long been running non-local content, most notably the London franchise (where you'd think there would be more than enough news to fill the schedules), which shows all manner of old TV series on the basis that they are based in London.  They also regularly show all manner of British sex comedies from the seventies.  Again, my kind of content.  I can only dream of That's Crapchester adopting such a schedule, (OK, there aren't any TV series filmed here, but none of the movies they've been showing of late were made here, either).  But it is a curious thing that ancient movies have lately proven more popular than local news.  Which, not surprisingly, calls into question the basis upon which these franchises were created: that there existed a hitherto untapped demand for local news which wasn't catered for by either the BBC or ITV regional news output.  You would have thought that the decline of local newspapers - most of which can barely fill their pages with local content, would have been a clear indication that this was not the case.  So, here's hoping for some more old movies tomorrow.



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