You know you’re in trouble when your channel loses to dead air


When Australian Channel Seven aired a blank screen for 41 minutes [indirect report], you'd think its competition would pick up some viewers. But it didn't.

But the glitch did not result in a ratings boost for public broadcaster SBS, with figures showing viewers preferred Seven's blank screen.

To Seven's astonishment more than 900,000 viewers stayed tuned to the network after screens went blank 38 minutes into the nail-biting episode. "Around a million Australians hung in there for us and we thank them for their commitment," Seven Sydney spokesman Simon Francis said last night.

(The Chaser, Australia's response to The Onion, chimes in with their own coverage.)

Comments (35)
  1. steven says:

    Well, you know what they say: 500 channels and nothing on…

  2. David Candy says:

    I watched it.

    I rarely watch Ch 7 at all as they make all their personalities look like sexual predators.

    OTOH, they were the only network that attended my sister’s death and sent me the tape from the camera for nothing.

    CNNNN (a news network?????) by The Chaser takes a camera to america and do street interviews with americians. Americians love to talk passionately about anything they have no clue on (at least to cameras).

  3. 8 says:

    If the VCR was blinking 00:00 then perhaps they assumed time had stopped. Though a million VCRs all going blink blink at once is very uncommon.

    Perhaps the "nail-biting episode" already had the people stunned/paralyzed and it took them another 38 minutes to recover once the channel went blank. Staring at a blank screen for 3 minutes (in an incident) is ok I guess. <troll>More peaceful to look at then a blue screen (yes, I _did _ change the background colour to black in the win95 days).</troll>

    And about the lost ad revenues: they can broadcast the ads later, right? They’re re-screening the "nail-biting episode" anyway, just sounds like time saved if they can copy/paste the ads along with it.

  4. Not Amused says:

    Americians love to talk passionately about anything they have no clue on (at least to cameras).

    Great. More stereotyping. I’ll add it to the "requirements for all American citizens" list between "fat" and "ignorant", but before "rude".

    Go drink a Fosters with Crocodile Dundee.

  5. wb says:

    sbs did a interview with us when we attended a local mom and pop computer shop lan party. i thought that the interview would have been much more biased that it was. i thought they did a pretty good job presenting the issue (using a video game to foster army recruiting)

    so, sbs is ok in my book.

    http://news.sbs.com.au/dateline/index.php?page=archive&region=4#

  6. foxyshadis says:

    Though a million VCRs all going blink blink at once is very uncommon.

    Even assuming VCRs are rapidly being replaced by DVD sets, I’m sure there’s tens of millions of VCRs blinking 00:00 around the world at any given time. ;)

  7. 8 says:

    Except VCRs can configure themselves nowadays.

  8. Rick C says:

    It’s probably that those people didn’t actually watch blank screen.  They probably left the tube on and went to do other stuff in the hopes the show would come back at some point.

  9. William Hughes says:

    "Well, you know what they say: 500 channels and nothing on…"

    ‘Cept on Free to Air in Australia, there’s only about 5 actual networks (If you include the extra channels on Digital, you get about 8 or 9 total)

    There’s other networks around, but they generally re-broadcast content from the larger networks. eg: Southern Cross ~= Seven and TEN, NBN/WIN ~= Nine Networks.

    And yes, we’ve got particularly imaginitive names for our TV Networks.

    Seven, Nine, and Ten.

    SBS and ABC are the only two that don’t have a number in their names. (Ten used to try and pass themselves off as "The Entertainment Network", but that kinda fell on it’s backside)

    CNNN = Chaser Non-stop News Network, a parody (if you hadn’t already guessed) of CNN’s format (right down to the smart-arse news ticker), shown on ABC.  

    They have one "roving" correspondant who did a few interviews of people in the US.

    The same guys who did CNNN are from The Chaser, and also did The Chaser Decides, satirical news coverage of the Australian Federal Elections in 2004.

  10. wb says:

    sheesh, nice link eh? if you are interested, its the ‘americas army’ link 3rd one down. requires *ick* realaudio however

    http://news.sbs.com.au/dateline/index.php?page=archive&daysum=2005-06-29#

  11. Taro says:

    You can see the interviews here:

       http://www.abc.net.au/cnnnn/video/

  12. David Candy says:

    The Eddie McGuire virus is about to infect management of TCN 9 and GTV 9 (Who said they are numbers only) – over.

    Once all broadcast media had to broadcast their station ID every so often. It was always done in full. Now they think just saying "Nine, Still The One" is acceptable – over.

    Americians have a reputation as the world’s most ignorant people. Your political culture is to blame in my opinion as it is based on lies (only lies), as is mine. Ours is different as the people hold all governments in contempt rather than worshipping them.

    A nation that believe god created the world in 7 days is not a smart nation as is fertile ground for comedians.

  13. David Candy says:

    And if only sites like the Onion learn HTML. So simple yet very few get it right. The site is unreadable if text size isn’t normal (and is unreadable to me if normal).

    In Australia the companies that are "Internet Companies" (Sensis, Fairfax, and others) seem totally unable to do web pages. Why the financial pages of papers refer to them beats me.

    Apparantly there are user interface standards that state users want to look at blank pages for minutes at a time. The SMH has a registration thingy. This means the first content page doesn’t load in a reasonable time. It takes days to visit this site sucessfully.

    MS encouraged these companies into piss poor coding.

    Telstra once used asp. To buy additional services one had to fill in a wizard. I tried to buy 4 things incl taking calls while online (prior to V92). Over a 1 month period I could not complete any of the wizards.

    So we have a web where most sites are unavailable (MS site hasn’t worked for years yet this blog site can – go figure).

    I WILL NOT LOOK AT BLANK PAGES. I WILL NOT LOOK AT INVISIBLE PAGES, ie frame only (so no access to MSDN site).

    Yet you won’t fix these major bugs. What UI guidelines say users MUST click hundreds of time to do simple things (like open a page).

  14. Norman Diamond says:

    Monday, February 06, 2006 9:40 PM by David Candy

    > Americians have a reputation as the world’s

    > most ignorant people.

    Hey that’s not fair!  You only get that opinion because you get to see the ignorance of Americans and you don’t get to see the equal ignorance of a couple hundred other nationalities.  Americans are the biggest believers in putting their ignorance on show and broadcasting it to the world, that’s all.

  15. Matt says:

    Not Amused, he did not say *all* Americans. You’ve exaggerated his claims to suit your confected indignation. Are you a little sensitive?

    You should see the clips in question too if you haven’t. The witless people they’ve managed to find must surely drag down the national IQ.

  16. Dean Harding says:

    It happened during "Blue Heelers?" Well, no wonder people still watched, it probably *was* more exciting.

  17. Amazing that they get these numbers based on a sampling of a mere 3000 Australians. 3000 Australians who *know* that what they watch is used to calculate these figures. I would have put it on the blank channel just for a chuckle.

  18. 8 says:

    I see your point, because when I think of the US, I rather think of the Free Software Foundation then Microsoft.

  19. David Candy says:

    Americans are the biggest believers in putting their ignorance on show and broadcasting it to the world, that’s all.

    That’s what makes em the most ignorant. Normal people shut up when the sense they have no idea of the topic. I did qualify my comments "at least to cameras" implying there is something about americians and TV cameras – which was my point.

    EG You don’t see me comment on multitasking synchonisation measures cause I know nothing about them. I won’t even comment to people who know less than me.

  20. Sean Hindman says:

    I’ve seen Austrailian television and if I had known that 41 minutes of blank screen was available when I was there I would have switched over to it.

    As to the American disdainer, what’s the matter?  You lose your girlfriend to one.  Sheesh, talk about someone who’s a little sensitive.

  21. Chris says:

    "Ours is different as the people hold all governments in contempt rather than worshipping them."

    LOL, now that IS a good one.  Oh goodness, yes…

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Queen_of_Australia

  22. Martin says:

    Did you ever hear of the term "Nullmedium"?

    http://de.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nullmedium (German)

    Enzensberger argues that the whole purpose of TV nowadays is to display nothing, but at the same time sustain the feeling of being informed/entertained. This way you can actually spend time without doing anything but also without being bored. Might explain that ;-)

  23. Still Not Amused says:

    >Americians have a reputation as the world’s most ignorant people.

    Do you see us burning buildings and killing people because someone drew a less-than-flattering picture of *our* invisible sky monster?

    Do you see us rioting, looting and beating up people over who uses our beach?

    Just so’s you know, we Americans view the rest of the world as a cesspool of ignorance.

  24. Matt says:

    Still Not Amused,

    We’ve seen you (plural) blow up abortion clinics, ignore thousands of hurricane victims and invade other countries because they wanted to kill your president’s daddy. You’ve still got the record for school shootings too.

    Talk about cesspools

  25. Chris says:

    It is said that pride is a sin, most likely because it is almost always based upon nothing you had anything to do with, like where you were born, or what your name is, or what sports team won the national championship.

    "Crude classifications and false generalizations are the curse of organized life."  ~George Bernard Shaw

  26. Norman Diamond says:

    > Do you see us burning buildings and killing

    > people because someone drew a less-than-

    > flattering picture of *our* invisible sky

    > monster?

    Bingo, having an idiotic reason is equally idiotic as having no reason at all.  (Lying about having no reason at all, i.e. having no reason at all but pretending to have one, is still a case of having no reason at all.)

    > Do you see us rioting, looting and beating

    > up people over who uses our beach?

    Or who sits on the wrong bench in the bus?  Or who uses the wrong washroom?  Yes.  Fortunately not as often as 40 years ago.

  27. David Terei says:

    Do you see us rioting, looting and beating up people over who uses our beach?

    Zing!

    Im off to drink some VB, no one really drinks Fosters acutally here, we just export it. It taste pretty bad here but I’ve heard the stuff they sell overseas is better.

  28. Offtopic says:

    Do you see us rioting, looting and beating up people over who uses our beach?

    No, we see you rioting, looting, beating up people and shooting at helicopters who came to rescue in what once was New Orleans.

    Raymond, sorry for the off-topic comment.

  29. rolfhub says:

    "Ours is different as the people hold all governments in contempt rather than worshipping them."

    Well, I think it’s a bad idea to hold all governments in contempt, and an equally bad idea to worship a government. I think that politicians that got voted in a democratic system have to be accepted by all citziens. Holding all governments in contempt, even without good reason to do so makes it very hard for any politician to make a decent job, some support by the citizens is important for every government.

    But on the other hand, every politician can be / become corrupt, incompetent or can abuse his/her power, so every citizen has to stay critical, not gullible or obedient.

    All in all it comes down to keeping the right balace between too much and not enough trust in the government.

    I’m not sure, but I think most of us (I live in germany) see that as I do (nowadays).

    > "A nation that believe god created the world in 7 days is not a smart nation as is fertile ground for comedians."

    Well, I’ve never been to the USA, but from what I read/hear/etc., I think that it’s still only a minoriy (in the USA) that honestly believes what the religious leaders preach if it contradicts logic and scientific evidence, so I think it’s unfair to say that the whole nation believes something that is implausible for every scientific inclined person on earth. There may be quite some religious zealots, but certanly not the whole country. But it seems as if the religious zealots gain more and more power in the USA and other countries lately, which worries me. But one still has to be fair.

    > "It is said that pride is a sin, most likely because it is almost always based upon nothing you had anything to do with, like where you were born, or what your name is, or what sports team won the national championship."

    I totally agree with that, but it seems to be so very human, one can see it everywhere, it’s not specific to any nation (IMHO). But it seems as if it’s specific to people with somewhat low intelligence, people that are genuinely smart and intelligent seem to be mosly modest, the ones that brag loudest often don’t really have anything to be proud about.

  30. Okay people this is ridiculous. Any further comments that don’t talk about dead air will be deleted.

  31. zedxster says:

    I totally missed the dead air special. One must have been watching something else more intellectual. It’s generally accepted that Network Seven will always *try* to pander to the lowest common denominator.

    But now onto the technical side of things, such an instance of dead air should never have actually happened as there is always a standby program just-in-case.

    And Digital BetaCam tapes being the way of yesterday, they would have had a large hard disc array of ready-to-access media.

    SO, either it was a ‘computer’ issue, or the link between the station and the actual transmitter was broken.

    Having worked in Channel 31 (Melbourne’s local community television station), it wasn’t that long ago we were still using good old U-Matics. And if a tape were to have malfunctioned (which was very common), there would always be a backup player and tape somewhere. So much for modern technology.

  32. Norman Diamond says:

    Wednesday, February 08, 2006 12:27 PM by oldnewthing

    > Any further comments that don’t talk about

    > dead air will be deleted.

    OK, finally found a way to bring it back on topic:

    World War I started with dead heir.

  33. David Candy says:

    http://www.smh.com.au/news/breaking-news/chaser-writer-behind-leunig-stunt/2006/02/15/1139890800963.html

    Not about dead air but about The Chaser who has made the newspaper re a hoax in Iran playing on the current issue of cartoons of God’s prophets.

    PS In Muslim lore you can’t show any of the prophets, such as Abraham, Issac, Moses, Elijah, Jesus and others in a bad way.

  34. tacticus says:

    most people dont really have sbs tuned into their tvs strangly

    or abc for that matter alot of people will only watch the 3 big commercial channels

    zed i think all 3 commercial channels pander to the lowest common ;)

    now if only they could show sci fi shows in order and when scheduled

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