TV Scheduling Still Frustrating

As a person who generally prefers to record shows on TV to watch later that night or the next night rather than watching them live with up to one third of the time being consumed by ads, my biggest pet hate is TV shows that do not start on time.

Every weeknight, both channel 7 and 9 have Today Tonight and A Current Affair respectively finish at 7.05 setting up a delay of at least 5 minutes that generally carried through the night until after 10.30 where less ads usually pull them back into scheduling line.

In weeks gone past, Underbelly, advertised as 8.30pm Monday night on channel 9 has started as late as 8.43, finishing around 9.45. Initially ch 7 was copying by having Desperate Housewives start late as well, but their strategy for Monday night has changed to having DH start on time probably to catch “swing” viewers waiting for Underbelly to start. And of course, channel 10’s and ABC’s answer to the Monday night dilemma is to programme their night in such as was that the show against Underbelly starts at 8.35 or 8.40 – thus opening acknowledging they are going against the late running channel 9 BUT actually telling the viewer the exact time the show starts. Furthermore, ch 10 update their EPG to the minute so its not unusual to see a show advertised for 8.30 show as 8.33 on the EPG, thus allowing it to actually record at the right time.

The story is similar on ch 7 where Packed to the Rafters on Tuesday nights always starts 5-6 minutes late as well.

The EPG / recorder I use is Foxtel IQ2, which, unless you manually set a recording time, only allows 10 minutes overtime at the end of a program. So if channel 9 run more than 10 minutes late, you miss the end of the show you were after. Surely they should understand that? It’s got to be the quickest way to drive viewers to alternative sources such as illegal downloads. 

And what is worse than late starting and finishing times? A show starting too early! Last Monday I recorded 30 Rock scheduled to be on ch 7 11.30 only to find that at the start of the recoding, I had missed half of the show. Normally I set my IQ2 to start recording 2 minutes before a scheduled start time as there usually is never any need to start earlier. This happens frequently to late night ch 7, Beauty and the Geek is another example on Thursday nights.

In my opnion, there is absolutely no excuse why starting times of shows on TV cannot be exactly what the program says they will be. TV stations know to the second exactly what they are doing, and when. Ch 10 at the moment is the only commercial channel keeping their EPG up to date to the minute.

In this age of electronic programs, recording devices that depend on elcetronic programs, remote controls and alternative viewing patterns, this 1980’s style of late program starts as well as prgrammes that start too early is grossly unfair to viewers by both forcing them to wait for a show to start, and sit through the ending of a (usually) completely unrelated programme. It may have worked 20-30 years ago in keeping viewers stuck on the one channel, but this is no longer practical now, upsetting more and more viewers, nost of whom feel they just have to put up with it all.

Its about time that 8.30 really meant 8.30 on TV. Foxtel channels do it. Why can’t 7 and 9? And if they want to continue showing 35 minute current affairs shows – which they are not really, as the last 5 minutes is ads, and the “on tomorrows’ show” segment – then they should show on their program guide 7.05, 7.35, 8.35, etc. Its really not that hard. Same deal late night on 7. If your shows starts at 11.20 or 11.25, then don’t advertise it as 11.30.

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