TV in Taiwan drives me nuts (let’s not even discuss Thai television!). What really strikes me as odd is the fact that while Taiwan is so very technologically advanced, and Taiwanese people are used to being on the edge of emerging technology, the cable television systems here provide such poor quality entertainment that I am very surprised people put up with it. Taiwanese are so technologically hip that you can walk through the store with your Taiwanese pal, and s/he will be able to tell you anything you wanna know about the latest MP3 player, digital camera, mobile phone, computer or gadget. But, that same person will go back home and watch probably what is one of the worst cable television signals I’ve ever experienced, not to mention the programming quality of the on-air product.
The other Hui-chen asked the cable guy why our audio isn’t in stereo, this being the 21st century and all. His reply was that the local cable company’s equipment is so old that they cannot distribute the programming in stereo. Another thing about the sound that bothers me is that every channel has a different audio level. Some channels are so low that you have to turn them up to hear the dialog, but when a commercial ad comes on, it blows your set off the stand! Channel surfing can be a painful experience as some audio levels are very high while others are almost non-existent.
Now, before you dismiss my diatribe as just another foreigner complaining, please understand that this author is a former VP of Engineering for the #2 talk radio network in the USA. I know a thing or two about networks. It’s not that difficult to balance the audio on a distribution network, but you have to care enough about it to do it.
Let’s take a look as some of the things that really bug me about Taiwan television. Feel free to Sound Off! yourself about any of these, or others things that bug you too.
- So Much Crap On The Screen!
- It is really necessary to have a vertical banner with the name of the show displayed during the entire duration of the program? It takes up about 20% of the right side of the screen!
- I’m paying for my television programming, so please keep that yellow scrolling garbage off the top of my screen!
- Chinese subtitles on everything. Yeah I understand why they do it. I still don’t like it. The problem could be addressed by using SAP (but then that would require stereo capability).
- I feel like I’m looking through the center of a dirty window because of all the crap around the edges of the screen. When I play a DVD I am amazed at just how nice my 32″ LCD HDTV really is. It’s wasted on cable television.
- Repeat Programming
- HOW MANY TIMES CAN A PERSON WATCH GOD OF GAMBLERS??? OMG if I see that movie on one more time I’m going to hack my TV to bits! Even the Western networks like HBO and Cinemax repeat the same junk over and over! The actual number of movies in rotation is very small, and the truth is, most times when I feel like watching a movie on TV, I’ve seen it before. And I don’t mean I saw it on a DVD or in the theater. I mean I saw it on the same movie channel, yesterday. Yeah, The Tuxedo is a great movie. So is Marked for Death but they get more airplay than they deserve.
- Every “B” movie that Hollywood ever made is shown in Taiwan on a regular basis. No wonder they think we’re weird. How about some more great movies?
- Horrible Editing
- How may times have you watched an English language show, and had the scene cut at a critical point in the audio dialog? People who don’t understand English are reading the dialog in subtitles – they are not listening to the program (I think this includes the editors!). So sometimes, readers of the dialog are ahead of those who are listening to it. I’ve watched shows were the dialog was flashed on the screen in a big block, but the actors were drawing it out for dramatic effect. The last few words, often critical to the scene are sometimes cut off. That would only matter to someone who was listening to the original language. Another result of the subtitles is that many times my wife will laugh before the person says anything funny. She read what the character was about to say, before they actually said it.
- I don’t think that I have ever seen a commercial television advertisement broadcast in it’s entirety. I’ve seen thousands of 5 second clips though. See the next item.
- Low Production Values
- Why do most local ads have such distorted audio? I find it utterly amazing that any business would pay for a television ad that sounded so bad you want to turn off the TV.
- These low production values also contribute to the lazy editing. The on-air product really sucks, with all the false starts and cut off ads. I wouldn’t pay for that kind of advertising of my products or services. The attitude does not help these local businesses.
- Intros, and more intros! Breaks during movies are retarded. They come back with a slide, and about 5 seconds of music. Then, they fade to yet another slide and even more music. Why there is a double intro is beyond my ability to comprehend.
- Frequency of Stop Sets
- I’m not sure what they are called in television but in radio, we call the ad breaks “stop sets.” Some of the late night movies have sets about every 6 minutes. That’s just asking to have viewers get pissed off and go to bed. Not Smart.
- Dumb Censorship Standards
- While watching movies I have heard the most filthy language broadcast out in the open, in English, without censorship. But you will never see even a single tit – even on cable television late at night. So while it’s OK to call a woman the “C” word (which I find absolutely disgusting) you cannot appreciate her beauty if she happens to have her top off. Go figure. I find the language more offensive personally. Even movies that have broadcast on cable (and sometimes even in open broadcast) television uncensored in the US for more than 20 years, mosaic masked or scenes are cut completely. Are Taiwanese people that offended by mature programming (I doubt it, as every hotel has adult movies available, many for free) or are the censors using an archaic standard?
- The same language used in the movies is all bleeped out when broadcast on other networks such as The Discovery Channel for example.
I guess what I am getting at is that I expect more from Taiwanese television than I’m seeing. The people are putting up with standard of entertainment that is beneath them.
What is your view? Please feel free to comment.