Changing Channels

According to a news report I read this week, the BBC have received ‘dozens’ of complaints because they showed too much rugby last Saturday.

We live in the modern, digital age and, despite scaremongering reports that half the population don’t know about the digital changeover or what to do when terrestrial signals get switched off, the majority of households these days have either a Freeview box, a Sky Digital box, or some form of digital service provided by a cable supplier.

Which makes me wonder why 124 people felt it necessary to complain about the amount of rugby shown last Saturday when it would have been easier and quicker to just turn the channel over?  Or, failing that, turn the damned TV off in the first place.  Even those households without a digital service have at least three, if not four, other channels to choose from.

I often tell my wife to be grateful that my favourite sport, Formula One, is only shown for two hours every other Sunday, for only half the year.  The worst that might happen, on one or two occasions in the season, is that some old dear might have to wait an extra half an hour to watch Coronation Street.  Compare that to the amount of football that is shown on television – not to mention the disruption to regular broadcasting it causes – and it’s not a lot, really.  If England had managed to qualify for this year’s Euro 2008 competition, television would be absolutely dominated by football this summer and I seriously doubt we’d have had so many complaints about that.  As it is, there’ll probably still be a fair amount of the football shown anyway which, combined with the Beijing Olympics, will make up an awful lot of sport.  All of which will be shown on terrestrial television.

The Six Nations is an important tournament in rugby and the occurrence of all three matches taking place on the same day, being broadcast by one channel, is rare.  The fact that an average of fifteen million viewers tuned in to watch the sport simply justifies that far more people were interested in it than the ten dozen or so who felt it better to write a letter of complaint than simply turn the channel over.

What bothers me about all of this is that somebody has had the craving to complain about ten hours of sport being shown on the telly, yet probably wouldn’t even consider writing a single sentence about the glut of reality TV that is shown day in and day out.  These days our televisions are literally full, hour-after-hour, of cheaply made tosh, all for our voyeuristic entertainment; watching the rugby, for me, has been a welcome break from it all.

If you still think that there was too much rugby on telly last weekend, why not compare it to that epitome of real-life drama that the BBC broadcast: EastEnders.  Not only is it shown just about every day of every week but, in case you missed it, the whole week is repeated – in full! – in an omnibus every Sunday afternoon.  That, I’m afraid, is too much for me.

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