Melbourne-based writer and journalist. Purveyor of finally crafted radio plays. A Muppet of a man.
Seriously, Ten? It’s no secret that Channel Ten is resembling a ship leaking so fast that even Clive Palmer wouldn’t want to recreate it. Consistently beaten in the ratings into fourth place behind Seven, Nine and the ABC, it now appears to be getting strung along on the vague fumes of the hope that ‘fast tracking’ untested US shows and the promise of more Masterchef next year can hold our attention.
Looking back at its forty-nine year history, it’s difficult to dismiss Channel Ten so quickly. This is the same network that bought Australia Number 96 and Prisoner. It provided a breakfast timeslot for Bert Newton for years, and made a gamble on The 7PM Project that eventually paid off.
Five years ago the network was at the top of its game, so why the decline? How does it turn so quickly into a fast fading television network, struggling to remain ‘hip and cool’ with the key demographics, seemingly content to throw what’s worst in our country up on the screen to cries of disdain and flailing ratings?
It can’t be denied that there have been some strange missteps in the past year. New programs aren’t sticking, and the removal of programming chief David Mott, followed by the head of publicity, will do nothing to change what is inherently wrong at a very basic level.
Channel Ten needs to stop exploiting bogans.
I know, I know, it’s a hard ask for a network that so deeply relies on them, and probably sees them as the key demographic in Australia. And let’s be honest, who can blame them? Bogans appear to be everywhere. They’re loud and obnoxious on public transport, in shopping centres, and we all, in our own ways, find their antics amusing.
But here’s the crux of what Channel Ten hasn’t grasped – sure, bogans might seem to be everywhere, but that’s because they draw attention. For every bogan loudly talking on a train with their mobile phone on speakerphone while drinking a beer, there are another ten people in the same carriage keeping to themselves, hoping their train station comes soon before the bogan hassles them for money.
Unlike a captive audience on a train, Channel Ten sees this as talent. Not only that, but cheap, attention seeking talent. Stick them in front of a camera, and it’s a potential gold mine, no script needed.
How else can we explain the long years of suffering through Big Brother? The ill-advised resurrection of It’s a Knockout? The inward humiliation everyone felt watching Being Lara Bingle (including, hopefully, Lara Bingle)? The absolute cringeworthy portrayal of The Shire? The excruciating Don’t Tell the Bride?
While The Shire caught a lot of flack during its run, Don’t Tell the Bride is potentially worse. Give a couple of bogans $25,000 and count on the groom to plan the tackiest wedding possible, all the time accompanied with a narration by a disparaging Kate Richie. This show is somehow declared to be an hour of primetime gold.
Back in the safety of the confines of our own home, a bogan can be turned off. Channel Ten has been promoting their antics in droves, but to the Australian public it’s something to avoid. It’s humiliating, exploitative television, it gives a poor outlook for Australian culture and standards, and it by no means reflects the multicultural, vibrant reality.
In the rare moments these days when Channel Ten isn’t exploiting bogans or playing back-to-back episodes of faded American sitcoms, there are a few glimmers of hope. Puberty Blues gets some well deserved acclaim ( if maybe not the ratings that were hoped), and the upcoming Julian Assange telemovie will hopefully – albeit briefly – halt the ratings slide.
And credit goes where it’s due – Channel Ten has a good track record of giving Australian comedians with little television exposure a bit of a leg up. Sure, it might just be on The Project, and before it got canned, The Circle, but the opportunity was (briefly) there, which is more than can be said for other networks.
It’s more of this that should be needed, watched, and encouraged. More home-grown talent, more thought put into programming, and once in a while, a hint of a scripted storyline wouldn’t go astray.
Just please stop exploiting bogans, Channel Ten. They get enough exposure in everyday life without it being dragged out on the screens every night. And that includes Fitzy.