Volume 91, Issue 30

Wednesday, October 22, 1997

Suzuki side kick



Those with the latest in fetishes better jump on that TV converter – with the 16 newest choices in cable, the competition between channel-surfin' roommates just got tougher.

The proliferation of the new channels on the airwaves has made just about every past-time available to the home viewer. From golf, to auto racing, to cooking, to being mesmerized by old episodes of Scooby Doo, you can find a new channel for it.

Can this many new channels survive when they each appeal to such a small niche? There are golf fans and then those who are willing to shell out money just to watch golf 24 hours-a-day. Is there that much golf? Of course there is always Speedvision, the first all-day racing channel, Teletoon, the all-day cartoon channel, The Comedy Network, the all-day..... and the list goes on.

The television audience is given a chance to try these channels on Rogers for a free trial period, then it's six bucks a month for all of them. There is no picking or choosing, so if you hate half of the channels, you, as the consumer, are stuck with what you don't like. Conversely, if you are hooked on at least one, you may be against giving any of them up at all.

Consumers also know this is definitely what Rogers is counting on. Of course, never mind the cable giant also has a hand in ownership of a few of the new channels – that way they take in your cable money, plus have a hand in the ad revenue that will come in. It's a win-win situation for them.

It's also a win for the cable-watcher fond of having tons of choice to decide. For awhile there should be no complaints of, 'there's nothing on'. But there will be the complaint from some that there's nothing on except more garbage.

Who lost? The established cable channels like Vision TV, forced so far down the dial that in some apartments the channel it's on is the channel building security monitors the building on. In Toronto apartments alone that meant a loss of over 120,000 viewers. For a small cable station it means thousands of dollars in advertising revenue lost because their audience is not as large.

Are all of these new channels really necessary? Were the golf lovers crying out for their own channel to watch Tiger Woods putt in tournaments 24 hours-a-day, seven days a week? The curlers probably weren't even consulted on whether they wanted their own channel. Maybe there should be an all-commercial channel too, in order to enlighten viewers on every other money-grab existing in society.

Maybe what everyone should do is just turn the television off and pick up a book – it's going to be a long television season.

To Contact The Editorial Department: gazed@julian.uwo.ca

Copyright The Gazette 1997