Monday, October 10, 2005

More 4 Launch Night (part 1)

1943: Only fifteen minutes to go before launch of More4, the latest addition to the Channel 4 media empire (alongside Channel 4, E4 and Film Four). There hasn't been a new TV station launched in Britain since... er, well, this morning, when the Baby Channel debuted on channel 285. But this is the next phase in the big fight to turn Freeview into a big scary multichannel platform to destroy the dominance of Sky, and that's got to be a good thing.

More4 bills itself as an adult entertainment channel. Presumably that's as opposed to E4, which targets teenagers and students with schlock like Fool Around With My Girlfriend (don't ask). Channel 4 have built expectations high, promising great things. We shall see. Conventional wisdom says they need a good first night. Preview loop promises "programming that confronts as well as entertains." This is code for "We are targetting ABC1s, and if you're not an ABC1, Men & Motors is just down the hall."

Wonder if there is a MoreS4C in Wales?

1959: Preview loop stops dead halfway through so that the continuity announcer can start. Smooth. And what do they put on first? Yes, it's a re-edit of the loop I've just been watching for the last fifteen minutes! Oh dear.

2000: The More4 News. Crikey, that's a bold choice of opening programme. Sarah Smith talks about the dead in Pakistan. I am too busy wondering how long the set designer took to come up with a big purple cuboid and an incongruously placed laptop, ten feet behind the presenter and miles from anyone who might actually be using it. Is this a news set or the result of a drunken bet with the editors of Wallpaper*?

The very existence of the More4 News is odd, since no multichannel station has ever been able to launch a successful news bulletin. BBC3 and BBC4 have both tried (admittedly only because the government ordered them to), and both failed. Not convinced there is a market for this. What's the unique selling point? I already have seven 24-hour news channels - nine if you count Fox News (raving lunacy from the red states) and CCTV-9 (raving lunacy from the government of the People's Republic of China - mesmering in small doses, not least because most of their presenters aren't actually fluent in English).

Jon Snow thinks the earthquake might bring India and Pakistan together. Well, let's hope.

Report from an actual Pakistani journalist. That's something different, I'll give them that. There's something a bit... fifteen years ago about the way this is edited, though, and I'm not sure it's really adding anything to the ten minutes of carnage they've just shown us. Good idea, though.

Fifteen minutes on Pakistan. No other stories yet, and I'm not sure they did the headlines, either. Hmm. Is this going to be a features show, then?

2015. First ad break. Car advert. Car advert. Car advert. Oh, hold on - Renault have bought the entire break. Renault think that the sort of person who watches the first ad break in a news show on More4 might be in the market for a Renault. Come to think of it, I drive a Renault.

Good lord - part two, and we're back to Pakistan. Rundown of the headlines finally comes twenty minutes in. Unusual decision and I'm not sure it's very user-friendly. They move on to a slightly tongue-in-cheek package about whether politicians should admit to having taken drugs. A reporter tries to get MPs to admit to taking drugs. The chap from the Liberal Democrats says he hasn't, but thinks that it might actually be a career boost in his party. He might be right there.

But first! More of Pakistan, because they've managed to reach another reporter by phone. You can't fault this show for its coverage of Pakistan, but are people really looking for a news programme that only covers two stories in half an hour? I suppose on a really big news day, maybe. Perhaps this is an unrepresentative show.

Back to drugs. They've been inviting comments about drugs in their online (oh god) MoreForum. Everyone thinks drugs don't matter, but then what do you expect? These are the sort of people who sign up to a discussion forum for a news programme that hasn't aired yet on a station that doesn't yet exist. Of course they're Liberal Democrats.

Really not sure about that format at all.

Further coverage to follow as the night goes on...