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The Vacuum - Issue 14 - Media spacer The Vacuum - Issue 14 - Media
Beware the Dog
by Richard Youlden
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Placed for maximum effect in the top corner of television pictures, Digital Originated Graphics (DOGs) vandalise digital satellite, cable and freeview television services, pointlessly defacing pictures. Described by broadcasters as a vital method of channel identification in this multichannel world, they reduce viewer choice and fundamentally undermine the advantages of switching to digital television. But worse, at a time when the Government are encouraging a switch to all digital broadcasting, these labels discourage many from making the change.
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Digital Television was to herald a new era of quality broadcast viewing for all. No longer were we to suffer co-channel interference when the summer got hot. Ghosting was to be consigned to the waste bin of history. Pictures would be delivered in true wide screen aspect ratio, fully compatible with older sets. Electronic Programme Guides (EPGs) would be standard giving instant access to channels, and detailed programme information at the touch of a button. Digital was to be the ultimate television experience. Interactive, intuitive, easy viewing offering a broad range of options to meet all tastes. Finally we were to gain control and enjoy the widest possible choice of quality television, internet services, games and much more besides...
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But, while 21st century digital broadcasting achieves much of this, sadly it is also an unholy mess slowly withering behind an increasing confusion of corporate branding and pointless messages. A muddle of irremovable graphic garbage, amounting to the worse kind of interference imaginable. Thanks to short sighted broadcasters, who insist upon defacing virtually every show transmitted with prominent labels, digital television has gained a reputation for poor presentation and ignoring complaints. And worse, in many cases, it is well deserved!
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Inexplicable though it seems, broadcasters are determined that we should grow to accept this muddle of miss-placed graphic lunacy. Indoctrination begins with our Children. All Children's programming is covered with this corporate graffiti. But worse than the DOGs are the interactive "RED DOT" prompts: which cynically target societies most vulnerable with the enticement to participate in premium interactive content while denying parents the power to prevent access.
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The huge choice of channels on offer, has rightly, always been the main selling point for up grading to a digital platform. But sadly this is also the most common excuse broadcasters use to explain away their insatiable desire to spread DOG mess and sully every show and this despite the excellent navigation facilities on digital boxes, and opportunity for 'virtual' DOGs viewers can kennel. A sad prospect when we consider that by 2010 the Government wish all British Homes to receive their television this way. Presently the plan is for a 'rolling switch off' of the old analogue broadcast system, beginning in 2006.
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Digital broadcasting makes viewer choice its premium selling point. But where is the choice to view programmes without nasty symbols all over them? If you tuned to a radio station would you expect to hear a constant 'buzz' in the background of your favourite music? Of course not!! So why should television viewers be expected to put up with the constant presence of a DOG on the picture especially as the technology exists to empower us to switch them off?
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DOGs not only interfere with viewing enjoyment, but they can cause considerable damage to Plasma TV Panels, which are susceptible to 'Screen Burn'. Screen Burn occurs when a static image, such as a Channel Logo, is displayed for a prolonged period. This becomes 'burned' into the screen and lingers on every picture thereafter as a 'ghost' of whatever caused it. Watch a Sport Channel all day, for example, and your expensive Plasma TV Panel could possibly be permanently branded with that Channel Logo!
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With over 1800 members, LOGOFREETV.org, campaigns for viewer control over DOGs, Dots and other mess inflicted upon us by broadcasters. We believe in choice, in the right to clean television pictures of the highest quality. We want virtual DOGs and interactive content 'opt-outs', so all viewers can control what comes into their front room. We want to see broadcasters fully exploiting the potential of digital television to the benefit of us all and that doubtless includes their profit margin!
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