In which our intrepid hero gets all excited about television—and then terribly disappointed when he realises the truth.

A few hours ago, I saw an ad for Freeview, an exciting new consortium of free-to-air broadcasters offering services from next year, poised to revolutionise the way we watch television. From their website:

Freeview is a free-to-view digital service providing Australian television viewers more choice than ever before. Freeview will offer a suite of 15 Digital TV channels and an Electronic Program [sic] Guide (EPG) to help you find what you want to watch quickly and easily.

I was about excited as I’d been in about three weeks. After all, I’ve already got the following channels (listed in order of their channel number, with duplicates removed):

  • Ten HD: Much like the Ten we know and love, except with some HD content during the afternoon and evening. Actually, their docos are quite good.
  • ABC1: If you believe the reality-challenged Right, Australia’s most enduring bastion of Communism and anti-Semitism. Yup, good, old Aunty.
  • SBS: The other great Communist conspiracy, purveyor of late-night porn and exhibitor of strange programmes in funny languages.
  • FTV Guide: A sort of “what’s on now/what’s on next?” thing that cycles through still screens, made pretty much redundant by the EPG that Digital TV already broadcasts.
  • 7 Digital: Channel 7, only digital. Go figure.
  • 9 Digital: Guess. Go on.
  • Ten Digital: There’s a theme here…
  • ABC HD: Just like ABC1, only in resolution so spectacular you can see the veins pop out on Comrade Lenin’s forehead as he calls the workers to global revolution—in CD-quality sound.
  • ABC2: Timeshifted programming from ABC1, plus some new shows, retro jazz performances and every single version of Stateline from around the country. There’s also an ABC3 which was slated for children’s programming and due to start in April this year, but it appears that Labor have nerfed it; its content is the same as ABC1.
  • SBS HD: Funnyspeak Commie porn in high definition.
  • SBS News: An assortment of undubbed, unsubbed news programmes from around the world.
  • National Indigenous Television: A mostly Aboriginal-themed channel, launched about a month ago with practically no fanfare whatsoever. So little fanfare in fact, that their press officer may well have welcomed Captain Cook to Australian shores, and hence would be responsible for that horrible terra nullius mess.
  • D44 News: Cycling static news pages from the ABC, sort of outmoded by the Internet.
  • Channel NSW: A mixture of automated surf and traffic reports, interspersed with community content and repeat broadcasts from a Sydney Writer’s Festival from several years ago—possibly the last time the NSW Government was comfortable bringing up the subject of literacy.
  • Australian Christian Channel: Reputed to be porn-, Commie- and foreign-language-free. Probably much like those obnoxious, early-morning televangelist shows. I wouldn’t know; I’ve never been inclined to watch it.
  • Expo: Just like those interminable late-night infomercials, only 24 hours a day.
  • 7 HD: Like Ten HD, only not, because it’s 7.
  • 9 HD: Like Ten HD, only—wait, I just used that one, didn’t I?
  • And seven parliamentary channels, for you sad sacks who can’t get enough Federal Government.

That’s a total of 25 unique channels. And I’m getting 15 more? Let’s see what I’m getting:

  • 7: I think I’ve got this one already.
  • 7 HD: And this one.
  • 7 SD: I don’t have this one, but I suspect (from the name) that it’s a standard-definition copy of 7 HD.
  • 9: Yep, I have this one, too.
  • 9 HD: Ditto.
  • 9 SD: See 7 SD, above.
  • Ten: Another one I already have.
  • Ten HD: And again.
  • One HD: Just to shake things up, the Ten Network will launch a 24-hour sports channel next April, named One HD; they’re also launching an SD version, but apparently no one’s told Freeview yet, as it doesn’t appear on their channel list.
  • ABC1: Looks familiar.
  • ABC2: Hold the press—nope, already got one of those.
  • ABC HD: Check—or should that be “Cheka“?
  • SBS: Got that one.
  • SBS2: Presumably the same as SBS News.
  • SBS HD: 1080 scanlines of same.

Woot! Forty—no, wait—twenty-six channels. For all this hype, I get one, lonely, solitary 24-hour sports channel that I didn’t get before. At least I get an EPG—which I already have.

Crap. All that wind-up for one extra channel. Quit yanking my chain, Freeview, and do something useful, like putting Kyle Sandilands into early retirement, away from the media.

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