Feb 18, 2013

How to fix the obstructive Philippine Television

Watching TV is fun. I really like it. In fact, I actually like TV shows more than movies nowadays. But there's a growing problem that is happening in Philippine Television. Filipinos might not notice it as I do, but Philippine channels have been pushing it real hard lately to make sure you get distracted by all these obstructive logos, icons, and hashtags they flash on screen to make sure you can't watch what you really want to watch.

Don't know what I'm talking about? Or are you as frustrated as I am? Join me after the break for the guidelines on how we can solve these problems.


Representation only. Exaggerated for emphasis.
The first thing on my list is the persistent rating system. According to Wikipedia, the current system is introduced October 6, 2011 by the Movie and Television Review and Classification Board(MTRCB), where it shows a rating if a show is classified under General Patronage (G), Parental Guidance (PG), and Super Parental Gui... I mean, Strong Parental Guidance (SPG).

Before these ratings, there used to be just less obstructive "Parental Guidance" text that you'll usually see on TV shows, but none at all are shown if they are GP. Now with these new changes, everytime you watch something, this is the first thing you'll see. Of course they're useful, specially for parents who need to monitor what their children watch, but it definitely doesn't need to be persistent. Not to mention their horrible, horrible design.

Solution: Well, obviously these ratings should not be visible on the entire show on every channel. Let's look at how the United States does it: They flash the ratings quickly but noticeably after the show comes back from commercial break. And we can keep those introduction videos at the beginning of shows (see it here), although I would have them redesigned to make it look good. After that, we can just flash a 5-10 second pop-up of the show rating after the commercials. It can look something like this:

A rating can flash 5-10 seconds after commercials. They don't need to be visible in the entire show.
Again, the ratings do not need to be visible all the time. I think it helps just as much as it would for parents who are monitoring their kids if what they're watching is safe. A good parent will not miss the new rating system, and for anyone who does, they need to reconsider their parenting skills.


Big, colorful logos also obstruct your view. Again, exaggerated for emphasis!
The second problem are the channel watermarks on every station. Sure, you gotta have one as majority of Filipinos only have free TV access on their homes and do not have the luxury of having to know what channel is assigned to whatever numerical digit it is on a TV guide which a cable subscription has, for example.

I encourage you to try and have a quick scan through your available channels on your TV. What I found on mine is that, ABS-CBN, TV5, and GMA have colorful channel logos, but theirs are less obstructive and less distracting than these guys that have big dominant in-your-face logos: GMA News TV, 2ndavenue, ETC, Jack TV, Cinema One, Pep TV (What is Pep TV anyway?), to name a few. And the worst offender of all? MYX. Although their logo is not that big, last time I checked, their channel logo is in an animation loop, which is not needed, and distracts you from whatever music video you're watching.

The thing that frustrates me is that the worst offenders are channels that mostly are offered in cable -- the one that you probably don't need channel logos as you probably have the channel listings on your TV guide from your cable provider.

But we always have had these colorful logos before, why is it a problem? Well, think of it this way: would you like to have a constantly showing logo at a corner on every movie that you watch in a cinema? I wouldn't like that. Sure, movies have to show the production studio's logo on a very iconic way at the beginning of every single movie out there, But why won't our TV stations just do the same?

Solution: Well, if you don't have a channel logo that is always on all the time may pose a problem to viewers as they may not know what channel they're in, so I guess the solution in here is to tame down the channel logos on our local TV. Add transparency, make it a single color, and shrink it down a little bit. People will still see it, they will still recognize the channels, but they will not be distracted nor annoyed by their logos. Here are some mockups that I did on how it may look like:

See, although significantly smaller than what we have right now on these stations, these logos are still perfecty visible, but it doesn't distract you too much from the content. 


Hashtags that obstruct your view, distracting and unneeded. Again, exaggerated for emphasis!
The next problem: Hashtags. Hashtags has grown popularity since a lot of Filipinos use Twitter. The idea is to add a multi-word phrase that lacks spaces such as #XFactorPHTop11, #aionetc, and almost every show in StarWorld has a hashtag, and it seems like it's not enough for them, they even added their twitter handle, @StarWorld_PH below the hashtag. Shameless indeed.

And I gotta call out ETC here as well. They are the local channel that shows American Idol, and yes, I still watch it, even though it is not as good as past seasons, but ETC, apart from flashing a ridicu;ously big #aionetc every second of every Idol episode, they also flash tweets from viewers in the middle of the screen. They don't stay on all the time, but it is a massive pet peeve I actually can't stand watching the show. I can watch it elsewhere, of course, unfortunately it is on StarWorld.

But sure. These channels need marketing. They need to put it out there on the internet so that people can talk about it and watch it. You are actually giving them free advertising if you do one of their hashtags. I definitely don't, and I am just going to say it: They are really annoying.

I'm speaking for myself here, but I assume you feel the same way too: I want the content. I want to watch what's on, not these text that they're showing on screen. If I love the show enough I am the one who decides whether to tweet it or not. Without the TV channel's help.

Solution: I think hashtags on TV shows should be removed entirely. But that's just me. If you're a TV station, you might beg to differ, so let's meet halfway: put hastags on your show teasers, however big you want it, but if you can't resist, maybe you can flash a 10-20 second hashtags on your shows in the middle of it or every after commercial breaks. Everybody wins. And oh, shrinking it down and improving the font won't hurt either.

Make hashtags small, but readable. 


Another distraction. Oh the humanity. Again, Emphasized!
The last problem I want to get resolved are these program specific banners on shows. I mean, if you are watching something on any channel, you must already know what it is because... you're watching it! And if you don't, you can just wait for a commercial break and almost every TV station shows the title card of whatever show you're watching.

Our offenders' list include: American Idol, our local version of X-Factor, SOP... I mean PartyPilipinas, ASAP, they all have these annoying (and often animated) program logos right there at the bottom left corner of your screen. You might have noticed the trend here: all these are annoying, unneeded, and takes too much space on the TV screen. 

The winner on this round though is a cable channel, Star Movies. Valentines was just days ago, and they're doing an "Anti-Valentine movement" marathon on their programming schedule. All is good, I don't like Valentines day that much neither, except for that ginormous banner they're showing on their movies. 

Solution: Isn't it obvious? Just don't do it. People will not miss your logos, not one.Take advantage of title cards after every commercial breaks and that is enough for people to know what they're watching. And oh, TV guides provide help as well.

So there you have it! Four problems and four solutions. Unfortunately things can't be solved immediately and we're pretty much still going to suffer an obstructive Philippine television unless we get heard by MTRCB and our TV stations. Oh well, it's not the end of the world. At least our problems don't include zombie apocalypse. That maybe bad. Way bad. Or I might be just watching too much TV.

Note: Thanks to The Neighbors. I really like the show.

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