Monday, January 25, 2010

Do more channels make for better TV?

You can never have too many TV stations, can you. More broadcasters mean greater variety and there should be "something for everyone". At least that is the theory. After watching - or not-watching as a result of acute boredom - German and Austrian television for the last six weeks I am beginning to wonder about the wisdom of this thinking.

There is no shortage of free-to-air channels - although you have to pay TV licence fees in Austria, so nothing is truly "free"-to- air. But what strikes me the most when channel surfing in Germany or Austria is the propensity of low-budget programs. (You find the same in Italy.) These are usually live-audience talkshows in the comedy or music genres. What there does not seem to be much of is better-quality, larger-budget in-house drama productions.

This got me wondering. Maybe the large number of TV stations has split the marketplace into too many small companies that do not have the financial clout to venture into serious in-house production. There are, of course, exceptions. Germany's ARD and ZDF do produce some quality TV, but most of the small, commercial operations seem content to run the standard Hollywood fare combined with "cheap and cheerful" studio junk.

In economic terms there are too many small players who have divided the market too thinly between themselves. Maybe there is afterall something to be said for fewer stations producing better quality. More is not always better.

1 comment:

  1. Haha, I guess this is what they call the illusion of choice.. Though we like to say that it should be quality over quantity, but I guess the public like to think that with more choices, they can actually make better choices.. Isn't the idea of democracy somewhat similar...?? I wonder.. =] especially with regards to your previous post on Sarkozy, if people are chosing based on what they know (limited information, since complete knowledge seems impossible), then the knowledge which they are basing their choice on, can be somewhat true, or it can be completely false!

    I guess Andy Warhol's statement that everyone should be famous for 15 minutes, probably is one of the main culprits for releasing this innate exhibitionist nature of ours, causing us to strive to be seen and heard on tv or in other ways... haha the ludicrous human condition!