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Television Media

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

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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  • Branding? (Score:2, Interesting)

    by carrier lost (222597) on Monday November 05, 2001 @01:48PM (#2523308) Homepage
    I thought those things were on there for copyright protection. Sort of like video watermarking.

    MjM
  • TNN (Score:2, Interesting)

    by rtkluttz (244325) on Monday November 05, 2001 @01:55PM (#2523366) Homepage
    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) on Monday November 05, 2001 @01:55PM (#2523368) Homepage
    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.
  • 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.
  • Re:Watch TV? (Score:2, Interesting)

    by pneuma_66 (1830) on Monday November 05, 2001 @01:59PM (#2523404)
    What is even worse on the discovery channel, is when they put up links to their website. they first make a fairly loud chime, which most of the time makes the dialog unintelligible, then they shrink the screen to put the link on a black background. it was one of the most intrusive logo i have ever seen.
    as for the small translucent logo's in the corner, they dont bother me. as many other people said, they are actually useful when channel surfing because you can tell right away what channel you are watching. and when cable and satellite systems have well over 100 channels, it helps in locating any interesting programming.
  • ...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?

  • 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.
  • Re:OMG ... (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Psion (2244) on Monday November 05, 2001 @02:03PM (#2523443)
    I don't know...videophiles have been annoyed about this for years. It reduces the quality of the program being viewed, and in many cases actually obstructs information...try watching some of the documentaries that air on Discovery or TLC. And Animal Planet has gotten ridiculous with their animated "bugs" filling the bottom of the frame.

    When it first started, I tried to vote with my remote and switched to stations that didn't use the annoying, distracting practice. That didn't last long as every one of them picked up on it.
  • by Zathrus (232140) on Monday November 05, 2001 @02:18PM (#2523552) Homepage
    Actually, I'd say it's the other way around.

    The idea is not for you to be able to identify what station you're watching - by looking at an onscreen guide - but it's to ENSURE you know what station you're watching.

    Once people stopped watching TV when the networks wanted them to watch it this became important. Tape something to a VCR, play it back when you want, and you may very well not care what station it came from; but the broadcaster certainly does want you to know.

    With TiVo and other digital recording devices it's even more endemic. You may not have even told it to record the program. It just did because it fit some set of criteria. And you're going to be skipping commercials! All YOU care about is the program name and content. This doesn't give the broadcaster much sell room.

    A lot of pundits and PDR users know that commercials are ineffective now -- the only time I "watch" them is when I'm not paying attention to the show much anyway and don't pick up the remote to FF through them. I suspect that eventually TV networks will move to banner ads or something similar, with side-band information available to those with "interactive" digital TV sets.

    Would I love to see the logos go poof? Sure. Do I think they will? No way. Not unless you want to pay for the right to have a TV (ala the UK) or pay for every channel you receive.
  • Re:Watch TV? (Score:2, Interesting)

    by malevolence (301869) on Monday November 05, 2001 @02:20PM (#2523577)
    Even worse is TLC. They have this animation for some of their shows that will just pop-up during the middle of a program, complete with sound effects that completely drown out the volume of the show you are actually watching. It usually lasts for 5 seconds or so. The one for Junkyard Wars is the worst. It's a car that pops-up with crashing sound effects, then drives off screen. Really annoying.

    I also hate when the local stations decide to put their logo next to the Network logo. One of the local stations here in Orlando is particularly bad about it(WFTV - ABC Affiliate). I could care less what station a show comes on, since I use my Tivo to time shift just about everything I want to watch.
  • Theres no excuse (Score:2, Interesting)

    by t_allardyce (48447) on Monday November 05, 2001 @03:18PM (#2523929) Journal
    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
  • 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 D. Book (534411) on Monday November 05, 2001 @03:38PM (#2524034)
    Nice to see a website dedicated to this issue. I find that whenever it's raised, all but the most discerning TV viewers (or those who hate the viral nature of branding in general) simply don't care and think you're being petty. Here in Australia our major broadcast TV channels were watermark-free until the Seven network added one a couple of years ago. After much initial complaint (mainly visible in newspaper letter pages and Australian TV newsgroups) people have just learned to live with it, and it hasn't had a negative effect on their ratings at all. Seven's watermark is transparent and not as annoying as most, but the scary thing is the precedent it sets. None of our other broadcast TV channels has one yet, but from Seven's experience it's clear that viewers will take it up the ass, and one suspects they'll use the introduction of digital TV as an excuse to introduce watermarks. Most channels have already begun to add show-specific watermarks during news, sport, breakfast, and music programs. As for the local cable/satellite providers, they've had watermarks from day one (except on the primary movie channels). When I contacted my provider to complain about watermarks, they told me they existed for "copyright reasons", not for branding, though I believe it's a bit of both. The watermarks were one of the main reasons I unsubscribed from the service when my contract was up - I got tired of watching nature documentaries where the elephants had giant "Discovery Channel" logo goiters protruding from their heads. What irks me is why these watermarks are suddenly so necessary when we've done fine without them for the past 50 years. It seems nothing is sacred anymore, and that TV programs are no longer a form of artistic expression, but branded, commercial product. In the end, your average commercial TV viewer who just wants to sit down to some mind numbing entertainment after a hard day's work doesn't give a damn about artistic integrity. Thankfully, there are two government-owned channels, the ABC and SBS, which are a bit of a haven for people who like quality programming, but my fear is if the watermarks proliferate on commercial networks they're likely to show up on these two channels as well.
  • MTV is the Worst (Score:2, Interesting)

    by strictnein (318940) <strictfoo-slashdot@yah o o . c om> on Monday November 05, 2001 @05:09PM (#2524526) Homepage Journal
    MTV is the absolute worst at this.

    They have those stupid huge annimated icons that are always moving around and dancing in the bottom right corner.
  • Re:Sometimes helpful (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Jahf (21968) on Monday November 05, 2001 @05:30PM (#2524635) Journal
    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.
  • by RageMachine (533546) on Monday November 05, 2001 @05:30PM (#2524638) Homepage
    I was watching a Jackie Chan movie once, the ones that show the words at the bottem of the screen when they are not speaking in English. I was reading what the woman was trying to say, when all of a sudden one of those things came up at the bottem of the screen and stayed there for like 2 minutes during the whole conversation between the 2. I missed the entire thing!

    I agree that stopping this type of activity is a good thing. I can't watch a forign film, and understand it anymore, and thats just plain sad.
  • They're not for you (Score:1, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday November 05, 2001 @05:38PM (#2524669)
    The logos aren't there as reminders
    or to annoy PVR users. They are to
    prevent unpaid re-broadcast by other
    broadcasters.
  • by dee why (534425) on Monday November 05, 2001 @06:00PM (#2524810) Homepage
    Serious, here in Russia (and probably in many other places as well) the broadcaster is legally required to somehow distinguish between ads and regular content. The logical way is to _hide_ the logo during ads and to keep it on all other content, thus also shoveling the brand image down consumers' throats. Well, we can fight back - build a device that checks for logo presence and switches the channel or mutes the sound if it's not here. Rumors are, the device is already on the black market at about $30 (at least here in Moscow).

    ----------

  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday November 05, 2001 @06:28PM (#2524939)
    When I was living in Australia, we had only 5 free to air stations, and one of them decided to put on a logo. Mind you, this was only a couple years ago - a chance for you American readers to back in time :)

    There was a huge outcry and I must admit after 23 years of my life with no such logo, it was awfully invasive to have in the corner.

    Then after a few weeks, they "backed down" and made the logo even paler, and smaller. Just less annoying.

    Now, I think they've done the usual corporate trick of convincing the viewing public that it's acceptable. I really do suspect they made it large and opaque on purpose, in the beginning, simply so that people would think the logo they ended up with "wasn't so bad after all".
  • We need more logos (Score:2, Interesting)

    by cyberformer (257332) on Monday November 05, 2001 @08:51PM (#2525529)
    They should show a logo for the program (not the network) during the commercials. When I switch on the TV or channel surf, I always switch to another channel immediately if one happens to be showing commercials (in the US, there's a greater than 1/4 chance that it will be). If I saw the logo of a program I liked, I might actually stick around and wait for it to start up again. This would have the effect of both helping the viewer and getting more people to watch commercials (during the good programs, at least).

    Yes, I know I should plan what programs to watch in advance, or check with a Web site or TV guide, but I'm not that organized. My guess is that neither are 90% of the viewing public.
  • Re:Sometimes helpful (Score:2, Interesting)

    by A Tin of Fish Steaks (416200) on Tuesday November 06, 2001 @12:19PM (#2527614)
    I want all the text on the screen to relate to the story I'm watching.

    I would agree with you on all points except that. I rather like the fact that the news networks (CNNHN, MSNBC Fox) are scrolling miscellaneous headlines across the bottom of the screen. Ever since 9/11, they've all been devoting nearly 24 hours a day to one or two ongoing stories (can you say anthrax?) while ignoring everything else. The scrolling text often provides the only clue that other important things are occuring in the world.

    And since so much of what they call news is actually just talk (ie., some retired general speculating about what is going on in Afghanistan), the headlines often provide "harder" news than the talking heads.

    But the contest to see who can fit the most US flag logos on the screen at the same time just has to end soon (please god!).

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