Wednesday, October 12, 2011

NBC News - Nothing Beyond California?

Today BBC World disappeared from our channel line-up at home. I knew it was going to disappear because our cable service provider, SkyCable, had been running a crawler across the screen for the past week saying that if we wanted to continue to watch BBC World we would have to get a ‘digibox’ – whatever that is.

We only have two international news channels on our service – BBC World and CNN International – and apart from an occasional movie, they are the only channels I ever watch (most of my other TV viewing is done online these days, and movies downloaded to my iPad).

When I turned on the TV this evening the screen was a ghostly grey as I had left it tuned to the BBC channel number (I normally watch BBC for about 70% of the time and CNN for the other 30%). I switched over to CNN, but there was just another boring Piers Morgan celebrity interview on, so I went surfing through the other channels to see if I could find any English news anywhere. To my surprise I discovered a channel called Talk TV that seemed to be a compilation of NBC programmes from the US. At that moment the Today Show was just starting which included a national news bulletin from their New York studios.

I watched the full bulletin which led with the story on the plot to assassinate the Saudi Arabian ambassador in Washington DC, had lots of stories about the Republican candidates vying for the nomination to run against Obama next year, and finished with a story about a woman who got lost in a cornfield maze (a maize maze?) and couldn’t find her way out. She had apparently called 911 from her mobile phone and the police went to ‘rescue’ her from the maze (which took them about one minute according to the reporter).

I realised then that the bulletin had not contained a single story about anything that had happened overseas, so I guess that the NBC news editor had decided that a woman lost in a maze would be of more interest to US viewers than the final battle for Sirte, the passing of the carbon tax in Australia, the release of political prisoners in Myanmar, the devastating floods in Thailand or the jailing of the former Ukrainian prime minister.

Is it little wonder than the average American has no clue about what is going on in the rest of the world?

I’d better call SkyCable in the morning and find out how much they are going to hit my pocket for one of their ‘digiboxes’. As much as I like some of the programming on CNN (Fareed Zakaria’s GPS is one of their best offerings), I need an alternative when Piers Morgan is on his soapbox.