Friday 14 September 2007

TV: Decline and Irritations

This is included here on the basis that it may be of help to some Freeview users. Then I comment on The Protestant Revolution, a TV series that underlines why I am increasingly giving up on television.

It was sent to

For many weeks now my Freeview box, a Thomson, has been counting down to quit and only today did it download a new 14 day listings for Freeview channels. The result was appalling. It flickers, it is nasty, has adverts, is less simple to use, and lost the inview picture and thus you could not keep an ear and an eye to the programme on at the time. This picture, it says, can be achieved by tuning to Channel 5 for an update to the whole system, but here the Freeview set (or my other one) does not tune to Channel 5 automatically or in any other way. Indeed, it picks up no channels from that set and probably would not pick up the advertised Nuts TV, which I do not want. Not that your service is any better than what was replaced.

Channel 5 and its family of screen-logo ruined channels is only available by satellite.

I annoys me that something unwanted is delivered like this. Fortunately I am not technically stupid and can operate this set, and was able after some effort (without any help from your mess) to go and retrieve the "old" listings system. I just hope that others who are similarly annoyed also can find out after some searching what to do to get rid of your incursion.
I'm thinking that, as the TV licence runs out in December, I might actually get rid of (sell) all TV equipment. I am watching less and less, and what I watch tends to be old programmes and occasional documentaries of interest.

Now there was a programme on BBC 4 starting yesterday called The Protestant Reformation with Tristram Hunt presenting.

This turned out to be a most nauseating programme, viewing through the usual distracting BBC Four logo. First of all the music behind was irritating. Secondly, the programme leapt about with generalities all over the place. Henry VIII did not set up a Protestant Church - it can only be called Protestant by a form of default against Roman Catholicism. He was opposed to Lutheranism. Ideas crept into it. The programme abandoned the Puritans half way through their effect - what happened to them then? They set up the first wave of dissent. It later went uncritically with the view that Methodism (second wave) was working class - any reasonable historian will tell that only a minority of Methodists were working class, and that like all such denominations it was by and large middle class. The early idealist socialists that gave form to the Labour Party, a number of them with indeed church connections, were middle class; and even the most radical denomination in terms of social ethic, the Unitarians, were hampered by liberal ideology and association with capitalism, even if it was of the more progressive end - enlightened self-interest. Its radicals knew the distance between churches and the working class. Some did get through, and some Methodist chapels in specific locations, but lets avoid sweeping statements.

Even E. P. Thompson has been criticised for saying the Methodists prevented revolution by offering religious palliatives of the future utopia, on the basis that not enough working class were involved. In so far as this happened, it was because middle class churches provided leisure, welfare and education services that brought in an outer circle of working class children and some of their parents.

This programme then was an idea that just added another hour (to be endlessly repeated) and was cheaply made, but allowing the presenter some foreign travel.

The key to the Protestant revolution is that it set up institutions, that would offer the beginning of pluralism. Pluralism is not made by ideas but by institutions of dispersed power, and legal frameworks. They then contain and promote ideas. This point may come into later programmes, but this one missed this particular point altogether.

I could read better in ten minutes, and it is why I'm thinking it is time to give up TV. BBC News 24 is streamed on the Internet now, so even that viewing is unnecessary. The licence fee saved could pay for the broadband.

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