I have recently been held captive by daytime TV. Not out of choice,
I hasten to add, but because I was forced to take to my bed for a few
weeks. It was a very effective tonic, if only to make me recover enough
not to have to watch it again. There is only so much Jerry Springer and
Oprah that a girl can take.
I think I visibly aged while my brain cells withered and died, capable
only of predicting when Jerry Springer’s guests would start raining
blows on each other. Supermarket Sweep, in all its glorious tackiness,
became an amusing highlight of my day - that’s how easily impressed I
was by the diet of daytime TV.
No wonder FMCG advertisers have been complaining about the quality of
daytime TV since this is their staple audience, made up of housewives
with children and the over-60s.
These key viewers are increasingly being enticed to cable and satellite
TV, or have decided to switch off altogether.
Despite much talk recently of terrestrial TV channels having revamped
their schedules, I could not find much tangible improvement in the
programme line-up compared with last year - apart from the appearance of
Gloria Hunniford hosting her own afternoon show on Channel 5.
While being blitzed by dotcom, telecoms and technology advertising
during evening peaktime, it was noticeable by its absence at other
times. DRTV advertising extolled the benefits of chairlifts (luckily I
wasn’t tempted because there aren’t any stairs in my flat), accident
claims, life insurance and pensions. The ads were crammed in between the
programmes, which effectively acted like wallpaper. I realised that,
during the day, there was no need for the likes of Open if I had a phone
by my side, although the overall quality of advertising was
questionable. It seems that this class of advertising is set to reach
dizzy heights if the Independent Television Commission is given the
go-ahead to relax rules on contentious subjects such as religious ads,
hair loss treatments and psychiatric services.
If I’d had multi-channel TV, I would have gladly switched over, and if
the technological capabilities of interactive programming had been
available, I would have hastily programmed in a more appealing schedule.
With the latter set to become a reality sometime soon, I wonder how
terrestrial daytime TV will fair.
Maureen Duffy may have been lured from the BBC to wield a budget of
pounds 16.5 million in trying to win back ITV’s daytime viewers but I
believe it will be a thankless task. Although they may deny it,
commercial terrestrial TV channels are more willing to invest money in
peaktime viewing than the backwater which is daytime TV, to the
annoyance of advertisers who are growing increasingly frustrated. I just
hope that interactive TV proves to be the Holy Grail.