For nearly 25 years I have enjoyed reading the weekly TV guide in the Sunday papers as part of a lazy Sunday routine. Despite now writing TV blogs and knowing weeks in advance what the TV schedule on each channel will be, there is just something about sitting down and studying the printed TV guide even though I already know for the most part what will be on, and even though the printed guide is never 100% accurate anymore – especially with channel 9 and their last minute changes.
And given that I am well aware what is on TV, I still do not know what late movies are going to be on any of the channels. Or when 7 or 7HD will be showing random Deal or No Deal or Sons and Daughters repeats. What midday movies are there? Are the any obscure shows I haven’t seen for years on at some time on any channel? What documentaries are on SBS, ABC1 or ABC2? All of this information I get from the printed guide – even though I know I could sit here end go through an online guide as well, or read through detailed advanced guides from any number of sources. There’s just something about having it printed in front of you – and I would consider the printed guide to most likely still be the source of most people’s information and decisions as to what they consider to watch on TV each week.
Sadly, however, the printed TV guide is not an accurate representation as to what is on all the time. With late scheduling changes being made as close as 4 days in advance – especially in relation to channel 9 and Tuesday nights, 7 has done it this week with True Beauty, and 10 recently with the Biggest Loser US not being on one Sunday and changing 7.30 Thursday to John and Kate plus eight – the printed guide is more often then not out of date by the time it is read on Sundays. This appears to happen due to the weekly printed guides having deadlines some time during the week leading up to the Sunday so they can be printed as a separate magazine.
Sure – the papers print “last minute TV changes” somewhere in fine print on page thirty-something, but it still does not help overcome the inaccuracies caused by late changes. A show here and there is not really a problem, but it has happened for a complete nights’ line up with channel 9 and Tuesday nights. I wonder, if the people editing the TV guides each week are completely up to date with the latest TV changes in time to make sure the guide is as accurate as possible.
This week, with the launch of GO, there is a full extra free to air channel to include in the guide. Up until this week, the TV Guides in both Sydney Sunday papers (Sunday Telegraph and Sun Herald) have had extra digital channel listings almost as an after-thought with show listings in a very basic text format below the laid out columns of the main channel. Each channel would simply have a time and a show name – no extra information.
Finally, however, in the Sunday Telegraphs’ TV guide, the free to air digital channels have been listed in a column format, the same as the 5 main channels. Now we can see clearly the TV guide for each of the channels ABC2, 7HD, GO!, ONE and SBS TWO listed in the same format, with the same kind of information – such as rating (as in M, PG, G, etc), captions, repeat status, etc. It now allows the reader to much more easily see what is on each of the digital channels, the same way they can for each of the 5 main channels. Congratulations to the Sunday Telegraph for producing a much nicer free to air TV guide. The only criticism is that channel 9’s program on Tuesday night is still incorrect, and this week will be the second week of having 20-1 at 7.30, 2.5 Men at 8.30 and Commercial Breakdown
But with channel 7 now the only free to air network not to offer a full time second digital channel, the column for 7HD is essentially a reprint of 7 programming with the usual break away changes from 12 midday to 4.30pm weekdays and some alternative programming after midnight. And coming before Christmas is ABC’s new kids channel ABC3 – so that will be 3 channels for the ABC.
Now, what about the TV guide in the Sun Herald? Well, not only are their digital listings still listed as an apparent after thought at the bottom of each day’s listing, there is NO LISTING FO GO!! So, if you are getting your TV information from the Sun Herald, you would not even know about GO. This, from a major Sydney newspaper, on the day and the week that a full new free to air TV channel starts just is unacceptable! How could they let the guide hit the streets with a whole channel missing? Its not like there has not been publicity for it? Surely they get the same channel 9 press releases as every one else? Carelessness? Mistake? Who knows. Its just bad! I know I won’t look at that guide again in the future though.
The irony though is that their channel 9 guide is more up to date for the week than the Sunday Telegraphs’ which suggests they are up to date with channel 9’s programming information.
Printed guides are still important. The newspapers should take more care to make sure they are accurate, and the networks in making scheduling changes should have respect for their deadlines to ensure their viewers by not changing schedules too late for printed guides to be accurate.