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Television Media

U.S. Logo-Free TV Broadcast Organizations? 485

Posted by Cliff
from the aren't-station-identification-breaks-enough dept.
iluvpr0n asks: "I ran across The UK Campaign for LOGO FREE TV and admired their goals for encouraging television broadcasters to stop taking up valuable screen space with their annoying and brightly-colored logos. It's not enough to be bombarded with 8 minutes of commercials during programs, but they also need to deface a supposedly artistic work (yes, for most of television that's highly debatable) to enhance their 'brand identity' initiatives. Is anyone aware of groups with this goal operating in the US (or other non-UK locations)?" Do we really need these things anymore? I'm sure most television viewers out there can associate shows to networks, these days.
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U.S. Logo-Free TV Broadcast Organizations?

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  • Yeah right (Score:2, Funny)

    by agdv (457752)
    I'm sure most television viewers out there can associate shows to networks, these days.


    Like that /. poll where they assumed South Park ran on Cartoon Network?

  • Branding? (Score:2, Interesting)

    by carrier lost (222597)
    I thought those things were on there for copyright protection. Sort of like video watermarking.

    MjM
  • Branding TV shows. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by MarkusQ (450076) on Monday November 05, 2001 @01:49PM (#2523312) Journal
    Do we really need these things anymore? I'm sure most television viewers out there can associate shows to networks, these days.

    This is silly. All the shows I watch are on the Sony network, but the only way I know is that they slap there logo on it. They've got it rigged now so that it's even there when my TV is off. I think that's going too far!

    -- MarkusQ

  • Sometimes helpful (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Unknown Bovine Group (462144) on Monday November 05, 2001 @01:49PM (#2523313) Homepage
    Sometimes I find subtle, semi-transparent logos helpful when flipping around, since every house I go to seems to have a different cable system with completely different numbering scheme. It's really annoying. Perhaps they could standardize channel numbers....
    • Sometimes I find subtle, semi-transparent logos helpful when flipping around

      Fair enough. But when they started having those continous news flash scrolling along the bottom, along with the other logos and station IDs, etc. they can take up to a quater or a third of the screen.

      That is really annoying.

      Just another example of Disney Planet, Mac World, and the universe of Microsoft.

      I swear I am getter less sympathetic to corporations each day.

      • by scoove (71173) on Monday November 05, 2001 @06:32PM (#2524950)
        I swear I am getter less sympathetic to corporations each day.

        Speaking of getting really annoying. Sorry to rant, but corporate bashing is just so nonunique and tiresome.

        I found myself doing the same with the cable company, the local newspaper monopoly, McDonalds (for lying about its fries - yea, I know, lame issue, but it pissed me off). Etc. I found I was whining about tons of stuff.

        So I fired them all. It really has to come down to that. Don't like the station IDs on the screen? Fire them. Yank the cable. That's your choice.

        Warning: Be prepared to be totally amused when you do this.

        Cable: I returned everything except the cable modem (I do have my limits). Apparently nobody ever does this. The guy at the counter thought I must have been shut off for not paying when I returned all the other junk. His announcement "but your account is fine" confirmed the suspicion. Oh, apparently they don't have a process for this either. After returning all the converter junk, I discovered I now have better cable for free than I got when I paid for it (HBO is unblocked now). Guess that cable modem needs a few more things live.

        Newspaper: Hell, they couldn't make three out of five successful deliveries. Fired them. Now I get every sunday (for the past two months) free and on time.

        Give it a shot. Don't like the service? Fire them. Don't rant. Don't threaten. Pull the trigger. You might actually discover you like it.

        Now if I could just fire the postal service...

        *scoove*
    • Yeah, or you could get your own TV already!
    • Re:Sometimes helpful (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Jahf (21968)
      Agreed. They are helpful when done minimally, especially for those of us that don't have digital (satellite or digicable) services.

      I was working in a television station when these things started to get popular. In fact, I was one of the people who helped make our station's logo as transparent as possible.

      First it was just during the beginning of the news, then all through the news, then all day long ... then the broadcast networks left theirs on all day long ... then all of the cable networks left one on all day long.

      I have no issue with them when done "right". "Right" by my definition is as transparent and small as possible, preferrably -just- a logo and no text. If you're going to "tease" a special with an animation it should only happen once during a block of programming or -right- after the commercial and last no more than 5 seconds.

      Of the "educational" channels, Animal Planet is the worst ("Croctober" opaque full color animations? Made me completely avoid anything to do with that special). History channel is worse with it's solid gold logo and the word "History" on everything. It would be highly preferrable to have a transparent "H" and nothing else. HGTV seems to understand the concept of simplicity pretty well.

      Things got much worse after 9/11/01 ... all of a sudden there were waving full color opaque flags and bright stars on all the logos. I'm now to the point where I would happily see them all removed to get rid of the nasty ones. However, in an ideal world they would all still be there but very minimalistic. The only stations I don't want to see the minimalogos on is the pay-for-premiums like HBO, since I don't want to stare at the logo during a feature.

      As for the other issue, channels like CNNHN and Fox News scrolling every little quote they can scrounge across the screen, OUCH. This is specifically why I didn't watch Bloomberg TV. At a maximum I want the announcer, a well done graphic, and and explainer quote. I want all the text on the screen to relate to the story I'm watching. If you have to refer to additional stories, start additional channels and just run a miniature TV guide at the bottom so I can switch if I want to. Otherwise we're just further investing a culture of lack of concentration.

      I also don't particularly see need to make CNNHN or Fox "tag-team". I preferred the single announcer format, again, for focusability reasons.

      But then again, I'm known to be opinionated.
  • I'm sure most television viewers out there can associate shows to networks, these days.

    I can think of at least 5 shows off the top of my head that appear on at least 2 stations currently, even with my limited (UK Digital Terrestrial) range of channels.

    Admittedly they are mostly US syndicated shows, but not all. A lot of BBC shows are ending up on UK Gold, UK Living, Granada+ and so on. The rest are things like Frasier, Friends, The Simpsons, Futurama, Buffy, Seinfeld and similar 'big' shows, where a subscription channel (Sky One, Paramount) usually has a newer season of the same show being shown on a free-to-air station (BBC 2, C4).

    I think there is less and less association of shows with networks.
  • by zulux (112259) on Monday November 05, 2001 @01:53PM (#2523356) Homepage Journal

    People who leave those things on their TV's should be gently throttled until they see reason.
  • I'm not a huge TV watcher, wish I had a TIVO to just record the stuff I really like (Farscape, History Channel, various classic movies that I probably wouldn't buy but do want to watch in their entirety like 'Office Space', etc), but I don't. Sometimes I find it quite useful while flipping through cable channels to see those little logo's down in the corner. Helps me determine if the channel is worth slowing down for in the mad dash to change channels, as I keep forgetting which channels are which. Perhaps if there was a simple way to just request through the cable providers to turn those little icons on or off before and after hooking up the cable, now that would be something.
  • TNN (Score:2, Interesting)

    by rtkluttz (244325)
    I wish there would be something like this for the US. It is an absolute disgrace that now TNN has changed its name from Nashville to National and started airing cool reruns of STTNG and I have to watch it though a horrendous bottom bar. Not just a transparent logo in the corner, but a continuous ugly black bar all the way across the bottom. I cant even read the text when they translate for Klingons (the horror).
  • DOG.... woof (Score:2, Interesting)

    by JohnHegarty (453016)
    I remember hearing the technical names for these logos are DOG.

    Digital
    On-Screen
    Graphics

    Anyway, i can think of two reason for them , 1) To stop people record a movie , and acting like its a gunine copy.
    2) To stop other chanells nicking their stuff. Over here in Ireland they often show stuff from Sky Sports on the news (with permission i am sure), but there is no doubth where is from with the Big Sky Sports logo on the screen.
  • This is certainly an admirable goal, but with conventional commercials quickly becoming totally ineffective (thanks to personal recorders with skipping features as well as more channels to flip to), I'd expect logos to be the least of our worries. From now on, you'll have to either deal with the morphing logos, advertising bars, virtual (and increasingly brazen) product placement, and other assorted in-show advertising, or actually start paying for your channels, HBO style. I don't really think that's such a bad thing... with increased demand for ad-free/light premium-style channels prices will drop, quality will go up, and you won't have to wade through crap. But, it'll cost you.
  • by FortKnox (169099) on Monday November 05, 2001 @01:55PM (#2523370) Homepage Journal
    Most of the logo's are translucent. Like the scores/info of a football game, if its semi-translucent, you can still see the action when it happens where the score is.

    Honestly, you don't pay for local stations, the advertisers do. So its not really your choice.

    And another thing, when I post a message, do I really need to see that slashdot [slashdot.org] logo? Its taking up my valuable website art.
    • Honestly, you don't pay for local stations, the advertisers do. So its not really your choice.
      I hate that crap.
      We do pay for TV. every time we buy a product that advertaise we pay for tv.
      TV is NOT free. It is included in the price of goods.
      If you don't watch tv, and you buy things, your paying for tv.
      its not your website art, its slashdot website art, but we don't really need it there, and I'd like to see it go away when I'm dialing in from home.
      However it is good information architecture design, so people can immediatly get to the home page.
    • Most of the logo's are translucent.

      I don't have a problem with the translucent logos. It's stuff like Cartoon Network's bright red opaque Adult Swim logo (which I noticed they finally changed), or Starz Action's multi-colored logo, or the animated logo of some network that I can't remember (real good job that one did).

      Honestly, you don't pay for local stations, the advertisers do. So its not really your choice.

      Actually, it is. If I choose not to watch a channel due to their obnoxious logo, the advertisers lose money. Plus I really am paying for Starz's logos.
  • by uqbar (102695) on Monday November 05, 2001 @01:58PM (#2523396)
    Half the time you cannot read the captions on the screen bottom. Anyone try to watch MTV's pop up video lately? The have so many logos that you can't see the goofy "fact" pop ups half the time.
  • Logo's in the UK (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Aztech (240868) on Monday November 05, 2001 @01:58PM (#2523398)
    "we really need these things anymore?"
    It's quite the opposite in the UK... we never really had them and we don't want them!

    All the mainstream channels don't include any tags and wouldn't dare to do so, however since the launch of DigitalTV around three years ago and the numerous stations that came with it... they started to put logo's on channels to differentiate themselves (so you can tell crap from crap).

    But it seems it caught on and even the new BBC channels include it like BBC Choice, Knowledge and News24, they all include a subtle alpha channelled logo in the top left, for MTV/Music and News it's not really that bad but if you want to sit down and watch a programme then they become annoying.

    But at least we don't have to contend with any adverts on some channels, I sometimes watch ABC evening news here, there is a break every 4-5 minutes, then the news is filled with sentimental dross in-between, you watch it and feel as informed as watching a brick wall, they call this news ?!? Fox News isn't even worth mentioning, do people serious watch that?

    At least CNN has something going for it.
    • Yes people do, and sadly they think everything on it is exactly how the world operates.
      I try to fight for freedoms, but sometime I say "if everybody seems to like to be sheep, why bother?"
    • Fox News isn't even worth mentioning, do people serious watch that?

      Sure, you are supposed to watch both Fox with its conservative/republican bias and CNN with its liberal/democrat bias and then take a moderate view between the two to get the true facts :)

      • It's not so much the bias, it's that many stories are not even reported on either CNN or Fox News - e.g. the recent stories about civilians being killed in Afghanistan (aka the fuzzy sounding 'collateral damage').

        At least satellite TV lets you choose from a variety of channels - Sky satellite TV in the UK even lets you watch Al Jazeera (unfortunately I don't speak Arabic, but the stories they include are quite different to the ones in Europe or the US - much more coverage of the Israeli/Palestinian situation).
        • Yeah I know at least on the Israeli/Palestinian situation that almost nothing is reported here other than when Israelis get killed. No mention of how they take over palistinian land on whim.... Right now all of the stations here seem to be reporting how all of us American's should go hide in a hole because we're all going to die of anthrax!

          My original post was intended to be funny sarcasm as I don't believe there is much true journalism left at least on a national level. The current big boys seem more interested in fear mongering and bias to make more money *sigh*
  • by josepha48 (13953) on Monday November 05, 2001 @01:59PM (#2523402) Journal
    .. I always thought that it was 10 minutes of commercials for every 30 minute show.

    I think that the small logo in the corner is a little annoying but I have seen it get worse. There have been times when I have seen the network, then the US flag and then other logos, all adding up to about 3 to 5 logos on the screen. On a 20 inch TV this makes for small viewing. :-(

    What is worse is AT&T's digital cable service now has advertisements in its on line TV guide. It used to be that you could see 12 channels at a time when you press the guide button, but now it is about 8 channels and 4 ad's. This makes it slower to browse the digital TV guide. I called and apparantly noone likes this but they don't care cause what can I do? Get satelite like my brother and then possibly not get the local stations (he doesn't)?

    While logos are bad I think that being bombarded with advertisements is worse. Look at yahoo and their new popup window ads.

    • Hear, hear.. AT&T's digital box and guide are simply the WORST interfaces to TV viewing I've seen. I'm guessing you have the general instruments DCT box like me.. it's a slow and outdated platform. Changing channels (even analog) takes at least 3 seconds, and it's covered with ads (don't we pay for this service?). I called too, there is no other box available. I asked what type of digital system it was, so I could purchase a replacement box.. the rep told me that was illegal. I told her it wasn't, I had a right to own my equipment, but she wouldn't tell me anything more.
    • "Get satelite like my brother and then possibly not get the local stations (he doesn't)?"

      Before complaining on Slashdot, you might want to at least CALL the satellite company to see if that's true in your area. I live 30 miles out of San Francisco and I get the local SF channels. I am quite happy with my DirecTV + TiVO offering.

      Does anyone else get sick of people who complain without researching their options first? If the cable company still has your business regardless of how much you like it or dislike it, you have given them NO incentive to change! You have a choice of what company you give your money to -- USE IT! Change to satellite, then write a letter to the cable company's VP of customer service explaining why you changed. Don't complain on Slashdot -- I highly doubt the suits who put the ads in are reading your post.

  • ...and now flags! (Score:3, Interesting)

    by update() (217397) on Monday November 05, 2001 @01:59PM (#2523405) Homepage
    The US seems to be going in the opposite direction, with American flags now being added to the logo. The worst offender is ESPN, which not only broadcasts games with the logo, flag, score statistics, out of town scores and the score ticker on the bottom but sets them all well in from the border wasting even more space.

    On the other hand, with a zillion cable channels that I, at least, don't remember most of, it's useful to have a small logo. Anyway, it's not at all clear to me how this group expects to have any effect. A petition? "Demonstrate and calculate the cost of ignoring the problem logos."?

    I'm skpetical about the claim that the logos are there to discourage piracy. Is anyone really trafficking bootleg C-Span or Weather Channel broadcasts or Dharma and Greg episodes? And if so, are they going to be deterred by a network logo?

    • When the logos first started to appear, I heard from a friend in the business that they were there to combat piracy, by other TV stations.

      It is not uncommon for a station to re-use news footage or network feeds from another station, with or without permission.

      When the translucent small 'bugs' first appeared, the 'pirating' stations would sometimes cover up the original station's info by using a larger, more opaque 'bug'

      And so began the logo wars...

  • Branding Folly (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Baba Abhui (246789) on Monday November 05, 2001 @01:59PM (#2523412)
    The logos annoy me too, away with them, I say.

    I've never understood why a movie studio, television network, or record company would go to so much bother to establish a brand. When I buy a movie ticket, CD, or choose a TV station, I do it because I'm interested in the content - the story or the music - not because I'm a fan of the production company. I couldn't even tell you what studios produced my all-time favorite movies or what labels produce my all-time favorite records, and I suspect I'm not alone.

    I don't watch much TV, but I would have a hard time believing that anyone would turn to a particluar TV station to watch a show they dislike just because it's on their favorite network. And the logos don't serve any other purpose.
  • by telstar (236404) on Monday November 05, 2001 @02:00PM (#2523414)
    I wrote a program a while back that solved this problem. It was fairly successful in removing, or at least making-less apparent, the logos that broadcast companies are using. My solution was only implemented in software on pre-recorded MPG clips, but given the advances in digital video, and set-top boxes, I don't see why it couldn't be implemented as a hardware solution.

    • I accomplished the task by isolation the logo (scanned which pixels were relatively stationary, giving priority to the corners.
    • I then tracked the edges of the logos, and picked up the color values just beyond the borders of these pixels.
    • In repainting a pixel, I'd average out the pixels on the left, right, up, and down, and weight each one based on how close to that particular edge the replacement pixel was being drawn.
    You'd be surprised how well it works.
    Transparent logos are a bit more difficult to detect, but they're less obtrusive. In addition, if this were implemented as a full-blown product, it could easily build a library of company logos and associate those logos with the channel that is being watched, so the logo detection wouldn't be necessary.
    • The problem with this is that nowadays the logos are often animated and jump about or gleam every few minutes, and are often different week to week or show to show.

      Frikkin distracting.

      --
      Evan

    • Agreed that transparent logos are harder to detect..but won't they remove more cleanly? Once you identified the level of distortion (just an RGB value) for each pixel within the logo it should be pretty easy to just subtract those values out of the pixel to return it to it's natural state, yes?

  • I freely admit to being a wrestling fan (ducks), as a result WWF Smackdown is one of the only things I bother with on a regular basis (outside of news, the Red Sox, and an occasional This Old House episode). And when I get my weekly fix, I get not just one logo (UPN's) in the lower _right_ corner of the screen, I get the horrifyingly ugly (and not even translucent) WWF logo in the lower left corner! It wastes a significant amount of screen real estate, and just looks dumb.

    Now there is a reason they do it - WWF actually owns the time that Smackdown runs on (as they do with all their shows), and so they brand their content as does the network (which brands _everything_). But it's still silly.

    I'm sure there's other programs with similar double-branding, but I haven't seen them.
  • Local stations frequently slap a "bug" on the screen, too. Sometimes they cover up the network one; during Jay Leno, (on Channel 9, KUSA) I've seen the NBC bug in the lower right corner covered up by a big blue block saying "9NEWS," but only for short periods of time, thank God. And the "bug" on Channel 6 (KRMA) is the mountains-and-head logo of Rocky Mountain PBS. And the local UPN affiliate (Channel 20, KTVD) has its own "UPN20" bug that it uses on syndicated programs.

    Everybody's got a brand to plug...

    Eric

  • I don't think these things are going away any time soon. After they were brought to the attention of the USA's general public with CNN's coverage of the Persian Gulf War, practically every major network latched on to the practice and haven't let go.

    They've been in place for 10 years now. Flipping through normal cable TV, I don't think I can see anyone who doesn't do it, aside from the premium movie channels (thank goodness.)

    Ian
    • Actually, if memory serves, VH-1 was one of the first stations to do it...and I'm pretty sure they were doing it before 1991, but I'm not positive on that.

      However, with Digital Cable in America, you don't really need them anymore 'cause the cable box itself will throw the logo on the screen as you change the channel, and you can call it up at any time on your remote, so eventually when the entire US is on digital cable or direct-tv satelite (who do the same thing), the need for them to identify the station during channel-surfing will be done.

      Then they'll definitely have decided to keep 'em around to "mess up" programs so that your home-taping is getting inferior copies and you'll eventually want to buy a vid-tape or dvd release. X-Files, Robotech, and Simpsons season 1 are definitely showing that people are willing to buy whole seasons of things at a time, and would prefer that to getting the "one tape a month" approach that older syndicated shows were offering on TV promotions (e.g., MASH and the Honeymooners).

      Actually, I'd like to see channels do the opposite of what they do now. When surfing, and I hit a program, I generally will decide based on the program content if i want to stick around. I'd rather be told what channel i've hit when i hit a commercial, in order to decide if i wanna stick around and wait 'til a program starts. This is the approach that HBO and Showtime do for their pay networks -- the programs are logo free, the promotions in between have the logo.
  • The problem from the TV station's perspective is that you really do need to be reminded that you're watching their network. With many cable and satellite systems having over a hundred channels, they're afraid of getting lost in the mix. If you watch and enjoy one show that they air, they want you to think of them the next time you channel surf to find something else to watch.

    Personally, I think that it's all a bunch of bunk. They may get a few more viewers here and there, but nothing that would be statistically relevant in the ratings.

    Now what would be really cool is to get my ReplayTV to detect the "bugs" and digitally remove them. (If you think they're annoyed with the current round of lawsuits...) Of course, there are technical problems in that the bugs actually remove information--you could mostly compensate on the transluctent ones, but even then not entirely.
  • by SuperRob (31516) on Monday November 05, 2001 @02:04PM (#2523457) Homepage
    "... but they also need to deface a supposedly artistic work (yes, for most of television that's highly debatable) to enhance their 'brand identity' initiatives."

    Actually, they do it so that you always know who's PROPERTY the broadcast is. They could care less about brand identification ... they do it so that when PVR'd copies of programs show up online, it's easier for them to claim ownership.

    Now, when will we see software to EXTRACT these logo's?

    • by Anonymous Coward
      http://www.dscaler.org/ has an experimental filter to reduce logo intensity. It is really hard to make a logo go away completely, but they've got a promising start.

      Of course this only helps if you use your computer to watch TV - but anyone with projection system should be doing that - there ought to be enough geeks with projectors on slashdot to make that useful to someone
  • Station ID (Score:5, Informative)

    by astroboy (1125) <ljdursi@gmail.com> on Monday November 05, 2001 @02:05PM (#2523461) Homepage
    It's really not that obnoxious. Broadcast stations -- TV, Radio -- need by FCC regulations [fcc.gov] to identify themselves; this is a (comparitively) un-obtrusive way of doing this.

    Further, it means that if their shows are copied -- whether taped on a VCR, or stills shown on entertainment news or whatever -- that there's a little ``hey, this is the work of CBS/NBC/ABC/...'' sign in the bottom, which doesn't seem all that unreasonable.

    • When the stations first started with the 'bug', the logo was generally transparent, small, inobtrusive, and only on-screen first the first few seconds after the commercial break.

      There is A much older anti-logo site [msen.com] at http://www.msen.com/~mwg/anti-logo-links.html

      Over time, the logos grew larger, more opaque, staying on-screen 100% of the time, and lately I've been seeing more and more animated logos. They're getting to be as obnoxious as banner ads.

    • Re:Station ID - NOT! (Score:2, Informative)

      by owlmeat (197799)
      What they are doing is not an FCC-legal ID. The FCC requires the *broadcast* station to ID with their callsign, not their network name. AFAIK, there is no requirement for a cable station to ID.
    • Re:Station ID (Score:3, Informative)

      by Monte (48723)
      Broadcast stations -- TV, Radio -- need by FCC regulations to identify themselves; this is a (comparitively) un-obtrusive way of doing this.

      The FCC requires that broadcasting stations ID themselves by stating their call sign(s) - a minimum of once an hour, IIRC. I've yet to see a "bug" with a call sign in it. And this regulation doesn't apply to cable channels, as they're not broadcasters.
  • by jea6 (117959) on Monday November 05, 2001 @02:05PM (#2523462)
    Let me see if I get this straight. Vocal slashdotters want PVRs that can skip the commercials that pay for the production of the programs. Vocal slashdotters also want the networks to air programming without product placements that pay for the production of the programs. And vocal slashdotters feel it is their right to dictate what programmers can put on the screen at any given time.

    My recomendation would be that vocal slashdotters stop watching TV as it is obviously not what you want. Listen to Geeks in Space re-runs for entertainment. OR, if you do enjoy The Simpsons, or god-forbid, The West Wing, you can pay for it out of your pocket or put up with the aforementioned "intrusions".

    I like The Sopranos so I pay for HBO. I don't know when quality TV programming became a natural right. I don't pay for The Simpsons out of my pocket, so I'm willing to put up with whatever the fine folks at Fox can dish out. And when I don't like it anymore, I'LL STOP WATCHING.
    • TV isn't a right. Your correct, /.ers tend to object to advertising and branding on TV. We are less bothered about paying for stuff - just look at the sheer number of DVDs that /.ers have bought in relation to SW and the Matrix alone!

      The problems arise when you pay for a channel and they STILL subject you to bright logos during programs. Most Sky channels in the UK, even the pay ones, and especially the sports channels, have prominent logos.

      If I have to pay for TV thats fine - but I shouldn't have to pay AND watch commercials AND have product placement AND have all the shows sponsored by something AND have a stupid logo burning a whole in my screen.

      I can even see that big X when I watch the news ;-)
    • by kyz (225372) on Monday November 05, 2001 @02:58PM (#2523818) Homepage
      Let me see if I get this straight. Vocal slashdotters want PVRs that can skip the commercials that pay for the production of the programs.

      What if I told you that the UK has TV channels with NO COMMERCIALS! I'm kidding, right? No, there really is!

      And guess what, there's NO LOGO, either! (OK, so they've started putting one in for a second or two at the start and end of the program) Is this broadcaster crazy? How does it get its funding?

      Now, I know that THE MARKET must dictate everything, and socialism is an EVIL THING that has NEVER WORKED, but guess what, the people of the UK actually collectively pay for these TV channels! And they like that!

      They also pay for 5 radio stations (pop/rock/dance, easy listening, classical, current affairs and comedy, sport and talk) and local newsrooms up and down the country.

      The issue at stake is that the channel they own, because they pay for it, is doing things that they don't like, such as producing crap TV shows and bastardising their output. So they complain. And believe it or not, they can actually win this one.
    • I don't know when quality TV programming became a natural right. I don't pay for The Simpsons out of my pocket, so I'm willing to put up with whatever the fine folks at Fox can dish out. And when I don't like it anymore, I'LL STOP WATCHING

      The airlines' service sucks. I don't remember when air travel became a natural right so I'll just stop flying.

      AT&T sucks. It takes them 3 months to get me a phone and they'll only let me use their particular model of telephone. I don't recall phone service being guaranteed in the constitution though, so I'll just go without phone service.


      Certain things are available to us as a society in finite quantities. The broadcast spectrum for instance - its ours and we ALLOW it to be used for commercial TV. Since its ours and we're giving them the chance to use it to make money/entertain us, we have every right in the world to bitch when we don't like what they're doing with it.

    • I don't pay for The Simpsons out of my pocket,
      yes you do, everytime you buy a product that it or affilate merchendise,is advertised on the simpsons.
      As a metter of fact, things you buy may go to support TV shows you don't watch.
      I don't mind advertising tv shows. I'd perfer it was under 5 minute per half hour, but all-in all I don't mind.
      I hate that damn logo, It doesn't do anything but take away form the content. the Simpsons is only shown on 1 network, do they really think another station will try to play it on the air unauthorized?
      wait until HBO decides to place there logo in the corner of the sopranoes.
      Whats that? you say you pay for it so it won't happen? well I pay for cable and the cable channels still have advertising.
  • As a loyal television viewer, I feel that it is my right to enjoy television the way I see fit. Seeing a small logo superimposed over my favorite television shows deprives me of my right. With all of the talk being made on web-sites like The Slashing Dot about content control, I wonder: when do we, the viewers, get to control the content ourselves?

    I consider myself to be probably the smartest user on the American Internet today. For example, are you aware that many web pages use "banner advertising" or "popped up advertisements"? It's true, whether or not you realize it. However, I have downloaded a piece of soft-ware known as the Junking Buster [junk-buster.com] which defeats those advertisements. Now I can surf the web seeing only content which is relevant, such as these comments. Now, what about television (or "TV")? I have purchased a device which allows me to watch T-V shows not at the times set by the closed-minded networks, but at my own leisure. It cost me over $400, but I consider it to be far superior to watching T-V with advertisements.

    Watching T-V programs with the help of my Delayed Recording Device (or "DRD") has helped greatly, and is a means of content control. However, although my DRD has over seventy features on its remote-control (hereinafter "remocon") I do not see any option to remove the logos. Because I am releasing the soft-ware for my DRD and T-V into the public domain, I expect that one of you "hackers" (hereinafter "crackers") will enable me to remove the logo from my programs.

    I look forward to hearing from you.
  • mangled credits (Score:3, Insightful)

    by crow (16139) on Monday November 05, 2001 @02:09PM (#2523492) Homepage Journal
    Is this really any different from the other mangling of the shows that networks have been doing? They've been talking over the credits for years, often totally destroying the tone set by a dramatic ending. More recently, they've squished the credits to the side, making them impossible to read, so they can show ads for upcoming shows. Personally, I would just as soon they not bother showing the credits; I suspect the only reasons they do are that one, they are required by contract to do so, and two they then don't have to count the time as advertising.

    This mangling the programming attitude has been taken much further by CNN and copied by its clones. First, they put financial tickers on. Then sports tickers. Now news tickers, even during live coverage of a major Presidential speach. Headline News is virtually unwatchable--it's like watching RealPlayer in the corner of a web page--ick.

    What is needed is a broad-based opposition to program mangling, be it logos, tickers, credits, or whatnot.
  • its about new viewers.
    who do you think all commercials and ads a postioned to?
    ages 10-20. as a general rule, once someone has started by something regularl, like the same deoderant) it is very hard to get them to change brands once there over 20.
    so a product must be pounded into our brains so its there when we make that criticle decesion on a product will use for a very long time.
    thats why they put there logos there, so new viewers will get brand identification.
    personally I think this issue is someone else did it, so we must do it just to maintain the same brand exposure.
    I hate the things, I didn't buy a big tc just to have 5-10%of the picture ruined by that amn logo.
    I do see a day when everything is broadcast in a 'letter box' format, and the black space is filled with ads.
  • by shutton (4725) on Monday November 05, 2001 @02:14PM (#2523528) Homepage
    When TNT stepped up to fund/broadcast Babylon 5's fifth season, this issue came up, and was addressed by Dean Treadway of TNT programming. So, here's a broadcaster's perspective:
    Bugs (Logos) on Screen/Voice-Overs During Closing Credits: The strong leaning in programming (and we know this won't be a popular decision with fans) is to leave the TNT logo on the corner of the screen throughout a large portion of the episodes. This is something that we have to start doing to foster recognizability of the TNT brand, not just during B5, but during movies and Lois and Clark and everything on TNT. Why? Look, there are 70 channels out there for the average cable subscriber to choose from (let's don't even get into satellite). In the age of remote controls, people don't pay attention to chennels or numbers or anything like that. The days of "ABC's on 2, NBC's on 11 and CBS is on 5" are over. Networks must do something to make themselves and their locations on your "dial" much more noticable (Sci-Fi Channel keeps their bug up 24-7...). Therefore, the logos (bugs) will be a regular fixture on B5. Same goes with voice-overs during the credits. B5 is programmed where it is because we want it to lead in to our prime time programming; we want to create an audience for what we have on the rest of the night. Voice-overs are necessary to keep people tuned into the network, to let them know what's coming up next. Again, we know this won't be a popular decision for people looking to tape the show for posterity. But remember: we are not an archival service designed to provide the public with programming they can tape so they never have to watch our network again. That's the kind of thinking that will send television out of business for good forever, and then you won't have any B5s or Crusade or anything to enjoy ever again, because we won't be able to pay for it. In short: we are not a taping service, we are a network, and that means we'll be carrying all the trappings of any other networks, including bugs, commercials, and voice overs. Sorry...

    The full discussion is here [a42.de] -- page down to the entry from "97/07/18" (that's 07/18/1997 for us 'mercans).

    -Scott

    • Crusade? (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Monthenor (42511)
      I seriously doubt anyone "enjoyed" Crusade. If taping B5 is all we needed to do to keep Crusade from airing, I would have done it twice!!
  • When quickly channel-surfing, the logos remind you what channel you're watching. This is a plus in my book!
  • by dcavanaugh (248349) on Monday November 05, 2001 @02:29PM (#2523630) Homepage
    The logos are on the screen so that any recorded copies that pop up will have a logo on them. It's probably some kind of legal trick so that the networks can scream about copyright infringment, theft of service, or their "campaign du jour" to outlaw fair use.

    One possible problem in search of this solution would be low-budget independent stations taping re-runs from other channels and replaying them. Then again, I wonder if there are any independents left.

  • Frankly, I like having the bugs on cable networks, as long as they're translucent, and limited to one (1).

    With most cable systems now carrying upwards of 50 channels, I think they're pretty handy when I'm looking for a channel on a unknown system.

    On the flipside, I don't think networks need them at all. Most cable systems (to my knowledge) follow the convention that the local networks are on the lower-numbered channels (except for maybe UPN or WB), and even then most of us have associated the big shows with the networks, if we even bother to pay attention. Aside from evening shows or soaps, why would I look for someone's NBC anyway? They all schedule the off-hours independently.

    Of course, I should kick in here that associating shows with networks is pretty dumb for viewers anyway. As if Simpsons made the rest of FOX's shows good...

    It seems like the only channels that can really benefit from branding are theme-targetted cable channels. You want some interesting non-fiction? You might need a bug to tell you quickly if you're learning about guns (Discovery) or a specific war (History). Looking for an abused woman triumphing over adversity? You might need a bug to tell if you're watching a drama (Lifetime) or an opening to a bad sci-fi movie (Sci-fi).

    As long as bugs are translucent and don't distort/cover text, I don't mind them. But does Friends need it? Not really. I doubt the Friends viewer cares.

    -Grant/JimTheta

  • When it comes to entertainment which I receive freely (as in beer) or even cable, there is a reasonable level of stuff I will put up with. I have no problem with the station or network logo overlaid as a semi-transparent, ghost-like image (with an alpha channel for the techies :). Lots of people tape things, and i think its fair for the broadcaster to be noted. On the other hand, the bright logos, the animations (there have been some flags etc.) are pretty intrusive.

    Also a lot of news services attach logos to released footage of course. If the news organization is obscure in the U.S., for example Al-Jazeera, it is fair, in my opinion, to include a logo. Those people, (here I'm thinking of footage in Kabul) invested money and put their bums on the line to get that footage, and if their credit is a little too blaring, well, go get your own damn footage.

    These days video gets passed around a lot more freely than it used to. If the people who got it for you want you to be reminded in a relatively unobtrusive fashion, that's their perogative.

    Some people here complain that it's damaging the artistry. I have done some video and I know that TV video, as a format, is relatively not "solid", compared with, say, text or paintings... Every TV has different distortion properties, the corners may be cut off if it's not a Trinitron, the colors, of course, are unreliable. My point is that purity of experience in TV video is not going to happen, because of the nature of the system. These people aren't being very reasonable.

  • by tswinzig (210999) on Monday November 05, 2001 @02:37PM (#2523682) Journal
    Those little logos don't bother me on things like live sports, but they are totally distracting when watching a movie or good drama. Especially those that show up really bright when the full frame is dark.

    But the most annoying trend on television is the MSNBC-style banners. I noticed this especially during the September 11 coverage. I swear, the huge banner on the bottom of the screen took up almost 1/3 of the height of the screen, and had basically NO information on it. WTF is up with that? These people need to get some designers in there that know how to put the most information in the least amount of space.

    I don't need a huge banner to tell me the name of someone who's face I can't see because it's half covered up by said banner!
  • by VA Software (533136) on Monday November 05, 2001 @02:40PM (#2523701) Homepage
    A quick guide
    • Closeups of ugly jewellery : A shopping channel; I don't care which one.
    • Stock tickers and/or sports scores (News may be happening in one corner) : A news channel; I don't care which one.
    • Crap music : VH1 or the country music network
    • No music : MTV.
    • Adverts : The Sci Fi channel.
    • Not quite adverts : Oregon Public BroadcastingB (or your state's equivalent, obviously)
    • People in a contrived, yet curiously unamusing, situation : A situation comedy on channels 3,4,5,6,7,8,9,12 or 13 (this is specific to my TV and you may have to consult a TV guide to determine which channels show crap sitcoms 24/7)
    • Animals shagging : Discovery channel or channel 11 (see note above).
  • I don't watch TV often, but a few weeks ago I heard that the Discovery channel would have a show about the Mars Society's efforts on Devon Island this Wednesday. Over the weekend, I tried to figure out whether my dorm gets the Discovery channel. Very few students here watch TV regularly, so they weren't able to tell me whether we get the channel. After a student in another dorm pointed out that the Discovery channel always keeps their logo on the screen, I was quickly able to determine that our cable service does not carry the channel. Once I gave up on cable, I asked around to find a satellite hookup, and found one after about 10 minutes.

    (The satellite system would show you the name of each channel as you flipped channels, making the channel logos less important.)
  • I really don't have a problem with the network logos, since most are transparent and fairly unintrusive. I was watching some channel last night, though, and they did a Southwestern Bell "Bug" right next to their logo for about 30 seconds. Had nothing to do with the show I was watching, or even the channel I was on. It was a stupid ad, pure and simple. That just looked like too much of a banner ad to me, and really put me off.

    Any marketer who's followed the internet should know that adding ads to your content doesn't work very often. Most people just tune them out mentally. Why even bother, when the only thing you're going to accomplish is making people change the channel? Logos and even adverts for coming shows are fine, since they do have something to do with the watching experience, but irrelevant ads like for phone companies have no place and should be discouraged with a quick change of the dial.
    • The problem is that this is the natural response to people's attempt to filter out advertizing. First it was just getting up and going to the fridge when commercials were on, then channel surfing, now TiVo. People aren't watching regular commercials anymore, so advertizers feel that they need to adopt more and more intrusive methods to force their ads into your attention. Obscuring part of the program with an ad is the next logical step, since you're forced to watch the ad if you watch the program (at least until someone comes up with a blocker).

      The thing that you really need to watch out for is the next logical step in the progression- product placement. Once the product is deeply intertwined with the program there will be no way to remove it except to stop watching the show. IMO the TV news has already been completely taken over this way. There are a lot of "news" spots that are nothing but advertizements for shows from the same conglomerate, and there's no telling how much impact corporate ownership has had on coverage of stories relevant to corporate interests.

  • The TV channels in Europe for the most part have big, ugly logos that are always showing (well, during the programs anyway, maybe not commercials.) These things really are annoying and get in the way. Usually on US TV the logos are transparent and so they don't really get in the way. Lately though, with the flag in the logos, they are a bit more intrusive, but I think we can handle that given the situation at hand. I think this is not a big deal over here in the USA, mostly a European issue.
  • Do we really need these things anymore? I'm sure most television viewers out there can associate shows to networks, these days.

    Come on. Firstly, viewers these days are FAR less likely to associate shows to network, and any ability to associate such is largely due to the effect of the superimposed logo. Do you know which network runs "The West Wing", the World Series or "Monday Night Football" ? I sure don't. This is NOT the days of old where there were precious few networks/channels, the networks had much larger mindshare, and there actually was such a thing as viewer loyalty.

    Secondly, it is supremely hypocritical for an editor to argue that superimposed logos are not needed 'anymore' while his own website runs its own logo prominently. Don't you think most Slashdot readers know where they are ? Isn't this made more obvious by the fact that the location bar already *says* 'Slashdot' ?

    At least one other poster has alluded to the powerful ability of VCRs and more recently PVRs to skip through commercials which are one of the major ways the networks both mark their brand and (of course) sell ad space. If this continues, it may be only a matter of time before networks are forced to start running advertisements underneath the programming itself.
  • The UK, from the UK TV that I watch, isn't nearly as bad with having these logos all over the channels as US channels are. It's not just the "big 4" networks either - cnn, cnbc, msnbc, etc. My inlaws tape many UK programs and send them over here - I probably view more UK TV than US TV - definitely in longer bursts (I can't watch more than about an hour of any US program, but 2-3 hours of eastenders, frost, morse, etc. is no problems!)

    What I find annoying is during msnbc (I think) they shrink the screen and put up ads and news around the talking heads. And during commercials they're running news text at the bottom. It's non-stop mixing of info - I'm sure the advertisers aren't happy that the station is broadcasting data OVER the commercial they paid money to put there (maybe they get a reduced rate?)
  • scope error (Score:2, Insightful)

    by abe ferlman (205607)
    "It's bad enough that you have trees in your forest, but moss is just too much"

    Gawd. I mean, screw the logos. Let's get rid of corporate branding in general. It is the reality which shapes young minds today- self image is far too closely tied to what your favorite tv shows are and how high on the nike sneaker price scale you rank. I think if we woke up one day and the tvs were all gone we'd experience a cultural renaissance that we can scarcely imagine today.

    harrumph.
  • Theres no excuse (Score:2, Interesting)

    by t_allardyce (48447)
    UK terrestrial has had the teletext/cefax signal for more than 20 years, all you have to do is press a button on most tvs and you can see which station it is, as for any digital station, there simply is no excuse, they _definatly_ have the ability to send data to the tv to let the viewer know what there watching with out having to put in a logo, plus, logos look terrible when they are digitally compressed with the cheap stuff most providers get away with.

    Is it really worth having a logo on your screen for the rest of your life, just so you can tune the tv in easily a couple of times? no, (shut up, it isn't).

    Not only that, but (moving back to evil compression) when i watch stuff i downloaded southpark etc.) i have to put up with the stupid blurry comedy central logo, i mean, the cheek - i get my programs legally of gnutella, yet i still have to put up with the logos. it sucks.

    We don't have any logos on terrestrial tv here (uk) (no channel 5 does not count). but the BBC is starting to push it with news-24. One day those capitalist pigs will be shot like the err capitalist pigs they are, and i will personally destroy all tv logos over the world BA HA HA HA HA HA HAAAAAA
  • Since I've taken to watching TV almost exclusively recorded on my housemate's ReplayTV, the only way I ever know what channel a show is broadcast on is the little icons. So long as they stay in the corner and don't block anything important, I think they're fine, since I don't really have any other way of identifying the information, and it's occasionally nice to know what channel a show is actually on.
  • by BrookHarty (9119) on Monday November 05, 2001 @03:23PM (#2523958) Homepage Journal
    My wife didnt know you cant leave the TV on a channel too long or the logos burn in on your projection tv screens. She was letting the youngest watch disney tv all the time, and it started to burn in.

    I didnt notice it, cause I only use the bigscreen for dvds which are letter box, but catch Enterprise, and there it was. At least they could move the logo or have it time out.

    So logos are not just annoying, they are destructive.
  • by mblase (200735) on Monday November 05, 2001 @03:41PM (#2524049)
    "Fifty-seven channels and nothing on." Nowadays, thanks to cable and digital satellite TV, it's more like five hundred seventy. Each channel needs to somehow distinguish itself from the others, and with syndication further muddying the waters, it's getting harder and harder.

    Hence the corner logos. They're more brightly-colored these days because the networks keep weaving American flags into them post-9/11, but usually they're monochromatic and very subdued. They sit in the corner, out of the way and not interfering in the program, giving everyone a ready reminder of whose network they're watching so that they can find it again in a sea of dozens or hundreds of cable channels.

    As for the complaints: is anyone really complaining about them? As I said, they're subtle and subdued, and nearly all channels have acknowledged that they're better off not animating them on a constant basis. The only people who have cause to be annoyed about them, as near as I can tell, are the people who tape shows or movies and archive them for posterity -- something the networks don't like you doing anyways, since if you're using a VCR then you're not watching the commercials those networks rely on.

    There's no nationwide American movement to remove these logos because there's no real need to remove them. They provide brand awareness for the networks, they don't interfere with the program, and they're not nearly as obnoxious as, say an X-10 popup ad or the flashing ThinkGeek banners I'm forced to stare at right now.
  • by evilviper (135110) on Monday November 05, 2001 @05:54PM (#2524773) Journal
    I've not minded the icons that much. Obviously they don't want you to make a copy that cannot be distinguised for the non-free product.

    What I do mind is the very annoying trend I've seen mainly on the USA Network, TBS Superstation, and perhaps others. Not only do they leave a transparent logo, but they also have very active ads for other movies, specials, etc. This is during parts of movies that I'm trying to WATCH mind you. In fact, USA has a bad habbit of actually including audio with these ads during slow parts of movies.

    I must say, the first time I saw this, I removed both those channels. If other people do the same when they see crap that they don't like, stations WILL stop doing it.

    The same thing applies to anything you don't like... If you just complain about it, nothing gets done. If you cost them a few bucks, then they'll rethink their activities. The entire capitalist system is based on the idea that people will choose some other competing product when they don't like the company's features, price, or practices.
  • by DennyK (308810) on Monday November 05, 2001 @11:56PM (#2526138)
    I don't mind the stations that have small, unobtrusive transparent logos in the corner. These blend right in and you usually don't notice them after a few seconds unless you look for them. Sometimes they're almost TOO hard to see when channel surfing or trying to guess what number my cable company decided to put The Foobar Channel on *this* week... ;-D

    What do annoy me are:

    - Big, colorful logos that don't go away. (i.e. Discovery Channel...ick!)

    - Moving, blinking, hopping, skipping logos. SciFi is bad about this...I keep thinking their logo is a part of the show and wondering when it's going to eat one of the extras for breakfast... ;)

    - Bars and borders. Come on, it's a station logo...it doesn't need the entire width or height of the screen. (This also applies to squishing the ending credits to show your damn ads for shows that suck...sometimes I want to read the credits for a movie for one reason or another, but good luck without a microscope or a 60" screen... Oh well, just more hits for the IMDB ;) I hate bottom bars on sports channels, too. If I'm watching NASCAR and I for some inexplicable reason really cared how the AAA-League Arkansas Mud Puddles are doing today, I will change channels and watch the damn game. ;) )

    - ADS that show up on the screen during broadcasts. NBC and TNT do this crap all the time with their NASCAR broadcasts. I swear, if I'd seen the flaming Witchblade logo cover Rusty's car one more time during a race, I would have chucked something through my TV. (It's even worse when it's those lame TNT series, because then you get an ad for them every commercial break, and a dozen or two in the broadcast itself. "And we'll be right back!" "Tonight on TNT: Watch Witchblade, it's the awesomest awesome show ever!" "Welcome back! Today's broadcast is brought to you by Witchblade. Here's our leader, Jeff Gordon. Hey, Jeff can't wait to watch Witchblade tonight at 9/8 Central! You should too! Here's a great battle for third which you can't see because our kewl Witchblade logo is blocking the view. Did I mention Witchblade is on at 9/8 Central? Hey, here comes a challenge for the lead, but it's time for another commercial break. We'll be right back, and don't forget about Witchblade!" "Tonight on TNT: Watch Witchblade, it's the awesomest awesome show ever!...")

    ;-D

    DennyK

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