The hounds are baying for blood in the boardroom at the 9 Network as the company hovers on the brink of receivership, suffering under the weight of a mountain of debt while first & second tier financiers squabble about who’ll get what when they execute their debt-for-equity swaps strategy (taking a stake in the company in exchange for extinguishing credit facilities) to keep the once high-flying network out of the hands of administrators.

Nine isn’t the only network suffering under the pressure of adapting to the digital age (ugh, the fucking digital age); the Ten network has suffered some huge setbacks with their failed reality TV shows ‘The Shire’ & ‘Brynne’s Bedazzled Life’ either already in the shitter (The Shire) or fast on their way there (Brynne).

It’s apparent to anyone with at least a partially functioning brain that the age of the television network is fast coming to an end, laid to waste by streaming services & on-demand downloadable content. Australian networks face a number of problems with their programming;

1)      Homegrown Australian drama can be great, sure, (and no, I’m not talking about House Husbands, has someone had the foresight to axe that monstrosity yet?) but it’s pretty fucking expensive to produce in comparison to reality television & there’s no guarantee that your capital outlay will translate to viewer numbers. There are some wins to be had in this field, however. A recent example would be the Kerry Packer story, ‘Howzat!’ a locally produced high-budget Australian mini-series which stormed the ratings and received widespread critical acclaim.

 

2)      When Australian networks do purchase the rights to US television shows, often the episodes will screen significantly earlier in the States than they do in Australia, opening up the door to online piracy as viewers get impatient and download the next episode in the series because they can’t wait the couple of days it takes to grace Australian screens.

 

3)      They have some sort of strange fascination with reality television. I can only really speak for myself when I say that I find reality TV (in most cases) to be some of the most contrived bullshit I’ve ever had the displeasure of watching. Shows like Beauty & The Geek, Ladette to Lady, Big Brother & others of that ilk show society at its most vacuous and make me ashamed to be a human being. I mean, sure, I understand that it’s cheap & can potentially drag in huge viewer numbers (The Block, Masterchef), but just for once I’d like the networks to show a little more faith in the Australian population. Is it too much to ask?

 

4)      Nobody likes watching ads, and now with Foxtel or on demand services we can fast forward them or avoid them altogether, This is somewhat of a problem, considering the main source of revenue for networks is through advertising.

 

It’s a bit of a double edged sword really. Without the networks, a lot of (the majority of) great shows wouldn’t get made in the first place. However, their inability to adapt to the changing environment around them makes me angrier than a Taliban fighter at an all-night rave.

/end communication

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