My Television Screen Is Becoming A Garbage Can

January 21st, 2006 1:59 AM
I have always been a news junkie, but lately I am finding it more and more difficult to keep my eyes on the tube when it is tuned in to any cable news network. The reason for my ire is simple...These news outlets have turned my television screen into a garbage can.

By that I mean that nowadays the entire viewing surface seems to be filled with assorted junk. Most of what we are being subjected to is just self-promotion for the show being aired or the station being telecast. The other distracting additions have very little to do with the news being presented at that moment and could wait for a less invasive time to flash onto the screen.

If I am recalling correctly, this all started a few years back when cable was presenting lengthy time blocks of hearings, trials, or congressional actions. To keep viewers abreast of the news, they started running streamers at the bottom of the screen that contained news headlines. From that point on, they added more and more, from logos to stock reports. The end result are the most junkyard looking news presentations found anywhere.

Today on CNN News, at the bottom of the screen there was #1 A show name slug line, #2 A Banner containing the logo CNN, followed by the name of the person speaking, #3 The topic being discussed alternating with the speaker’s name. #4 Stocks were displayed in the viewer’s right hand corner. #5 The final addition was streaming headlines.

Switching over to CNN Headline News at the bottom of my screen was #1 The news topic slug. #2 A banner with the words CNN Headline News on the viewer left. #3 Under the logo on the left was the Time. #4 On the viewer right were the stocks. #5 We had streaming headlines... and #6 There was the word LIVE in the upper right corner.

At MSNBC there were, #1 Two large MSNBC background logos. #2 A banner containing the show title. #3Under the banner was the name of the anchorperson, rotating with the topic being covered. #4 In the right corner was the MSNBC logo again, along with the stock market report.... and #5, The streaming headlines.

CNBC managed to be even more cluttered. There were, #1 Stock reports streaming across the top of the screen. In the upper left there was, #2 A logo followed by the word LIVE and under that the city originating the telecast. At the bottom of the screen we had , #3 Two lines of streaming stocks...and #4, On the lower right the CNBC logo.

However, winner of the race to turn television screen into a garbage can goes indisputably to Fox News Channel. I go to this cable outlet far more than any other, but on this day it also seemed even more cluttered than usual. Neil Cavuto was interviewing Vice President Cheney. Behind the vice president were two screens that filled the background. They both contained the words #1 Our World w/ Cavuto. Rotating in the upper right viewers corner were, #2 The words FOX, followed by the word NEWS. In the lower left viewers corner was, #3 A rotating box containing the words Fox News. Under that box was, #4 The time of day, alternating with the word Channel. Moving to the lower right was, #5 The current stock market status. #6 There was a banner containing the words Our World w Cavuto. Under it the viewer found, #7 A slug line on the topic being covered.... and #8 Those always present streaming headlines.

I can only speak for this household, but we all find the constant promos and repetition of names, topics and headlines to be very condescending. When I tune in a program, I am well aware of the station dialed. When I am watching something on television, I don’t think enough time will lapse for me to forget the station being viewed. It is nice, from time to time, to know how the stock market is performing, but I could really wait until the end of the program for this information.

As for those streaming headlines...If they are that important, let the talking head on the screen voice them for us. But, please television executives, do something about all that garbage you keep piling up on the tube. It is really getting to be more than a body can stand.